Thursday, March 31, 2005

Odds and Ends

- Took a look at the Mumbai Express official website today. It has all the basics down correct but maybe because it is a Kamal movie, the site itself left me a little disappointed as far as novelty or uniqueness is concerned. The way the cast is introduced is neat but the other parts of the site are strictly average. On the positive side, we finally get to hear a bit of one of Ilaiyaraja's numbers.

PS: Thats now three news items on Kamal without anything on Rajni or Chandramukhi. Impressive huh?!

- Coke's next ad has Aamir in a dual role - as a snobbish NRI on a bride hunt and as a very Indian bhabhi in the same household that he is looking for his wife in. Aamir looks hilariously feminine as the bhabhi and the ad itself has an interesting storyline.

- Ram Gopal Varma's next film Sarkar stars Big B and li'l B! It has Amitabh as a politician and Abishek as one of his two sons. Company was a phenomenal film on the underworld and if Sarkar contains a similar look at Indian politics, it will be movie to remember.

- Chennai's Satyam theatre now apparently has a play lounge for children. So mom and dad can catch a movie while their kid enjoys herself in the lounge. Seems like a nice concept on paper but would it work, especially in our society where parents are extremely protective of their kids? I for one can't imagine leaving my daughter with strangers. I wouldn't be able to enjoy the film since I'd be worrying about how she's doing! And wonder what they'd do if a kid started crying and wanted to see his/her parents. Walk around a darkened theatre trying to locate them?! Would be nice to get some stats on the success of the lounge...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Jo with Kamal again?

Maayaavi, one of the two big releases for Jyothika that I was looking forward to, has come and gone without doing much for her career. In fact, her performance in some of the scenes in the movie brings back scary memories of the over-expressive, overacting Jyothika of the pre-12B days. But it looks like the bubbly actress is the frontrunner for the heroine's role in Gautam's next venture with Kamal. A Rajni film followed by a Kamal film. That would be quite a coup for her!

And there is a lot to look forward to about the project itself. In Kamal and Gautam, we have two technically savvy artists and a slick actioner from them would definitely be explosive. And Gautam managed to extract the best out of Jyothika in Kaakka Kaakka, where she both looked gorgeous and acted very well. So I am fervently hoping this project takes off with the three of them in tow, unlike the last project Gautam was supposed to do, Chennai Oru Mazhaikkaalam, that was dropped after a lot of initial publicity.

Kamal's press meet

[Pic Courtesy Cinesouth]

Kamal's innovative ideas and artistic slant of mind are clear from this background to his press meet yesterday. The meet was apparently convened to announce the launch of his own music company Raajkamal Audios, which naturally will market the Mumbai Express soundtrack. He provided numbers on the bookings so far, saying that it was a celebratory party rather than a launch party! But strangely, there is no mention of the actual public release date of the eagerly anticipated album. Considering the quality of previous Kamal-Ilaiyaraja albums, including the last one Virumaandi, I am definitely waiting with my ears wide open for the release of the songs.

Tragedy but a sigh of relief too

The earthquake in Indonesia Monday night has claimed 1000 lives already but as we know all too well, the toll in disasters like this could easily go over the initial estimate as more bodies are discovered. The tragedy also brings back sad memories of the deadly tsunami in December last year. But sadness at the tragedy is accompanied by relief too that the earthquake has not triggered a tsunami this time. Nature definitely has not been our friend the last few months...

Capsule (Re)views

Here are short, capsule reviews of some non-Tamil movies i have watched in the last couple of weeks...

Vaada - Starring Arjun Rampal, Zayed Khan and Amisha Patel, this is a remake of the Parthiban-starrer Sabaash. It revolves around a blind man(Arjun) coming to terms with his wife(Amisha) committing suicide. But as the investigation proceeds, it increasingly begins to look like the husband's close friend(Zayed) may have had something to do with the wife's death. The Tamil original played to Parthiban's image and this resulted in the movie more resembling a comedy in many places. But Vaada corrects this and keeps the proceedings serious throughout. So it ends up being a better thriller. But I liked the Tamil version's ending better though.

Insaan - A good cast is wasted in this dud. It reminds us of the simplistic but loud action movies of the 80s with its story of a cop(Devgan) who becomes friends with a pious Muslim(Akshay) with neither aware that the brother of the Muslim is a terrorist who had earlier killed the cop's girlfriend. The story is full of holes and character development is nil. Subtlety is completely absent in the treatment of Hindu-Muslim relations and the action sequences are low-key and poorly staged. The only bright spot is Akshay Kumar, who turns in a very good comedic performance.

Bridget Jones Diary 2 - I have always liked British romantic comedies more than the ones from Hollywood because of their focus on comedy rather romance, adult relationships and sharp script. I loved the first Bridget Jones movie but this sequel seems completely unnecessary since it treads exactly the same ground as the first with Renee Zelwegger once again ping-ponging between the mature but stiff Colin Firth and the charming but womanising Hugh Grant. Many of the scenes give us a feeling of deja vu and the sequences where Renee is stuck in a Thai prison point to the complete lack of ideas on the director's part to fill up the 1 hr 45 minutes. This diary is not worth reading.

Flight of the Phoenix - Poorly developed characters who are mostly indistinguishable from one other, a laughably cliched script and an inconsistent, disjoint screenplay mark this wannabe epic about a group of people crashlanding in a desert and building a plane to fly out. A well-picturised crashlanding in the desert starts the movie off well but its a steep nosedive from there. Predictable crises create obstacles at regular intervals but none of them raise any tension. Don't board this flight.

Ladder 49 - Action and sentiments are blended nicely in this movie about the happenings at a fire station in Baltimore. Presented as a flashback of Joaquin Phoenix as he is trapped in a burning building, it starts off with his initiation at the station and then traverses his marriage, his heroic acts and the loss of more than one buddy in the line of duty. The scenes between him and his family are natural and help us identify with them. The close bond between the firemen is also brought out nicely in both serious and lighter moments and the action scenes are staged without any obvious special effects wizardry. Worth a watch.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Original London... and the Original's Original

Saw the Malayalam flick Kaakkakuyil yesterday. With Mohanlal, Mukesh, Nedumudi Venu and Jagathi, it is a laugh riot by Priyadarshan. It is definitely not in the same league as previous Mohanlal-Priyadarshan works like Chitram or Kilukkam and is full of slapstick humor of the lowest common denominator, throws logic to the wind and not all the comedy sequences work. But it is never vulgar, has a complicated screenplay and the laughs are fast and furious so that an effective comedy routine is just round the corner even if one scene falls flat. And the complete lack of the image factor in Malayalam films is evident since Mohanlal, one of the two superstars in Kerala, has no heroine, no hype-inducing introduction scene, no fights and gives equal screen time to Mukesh.

The aforementioned ingredients in Kaakkakkuyil seem tailor-made for Sundar.C. and unsurprisingly, the few clips I have seen of his latest film, the Prashanth starrer London, point to it being a remake of the film with the setting moving to London from Bombay. Prashanth gets a heroine in the Tamil version and I can safely assume that he gets atleast one fight and the one slightly tragic occurrence in the original has been replaced.

But Kaakkaakuyil itself is not completely original. A major portion of it is a copy of the English comedy classic A Fish called Wanda with John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis. But the main track of the two protagonists having to switch their voices has been merged cleverly with the track from the English version. And maybe because I've seen and enjoyed A Fish called Wanda several times, the scenes that were copied from it were the least funniest in Kaakkakkuyil.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Satyaraj interviews Satyaraj!

One of the depressing things about Sun TV is its over reliance on films and all things film-related. The bulk of its programming is taken up by films, film songs, interviews with film personalities and selective sequences from films. Even more depressing is the lack of variety and creativity in such programs. Interviews are usually conducted in a colorfully decorated set with an interviewer gushing over the star and asking a few standard questions that elicit predictable answers. So this morning's interview with Satyaraj was a pleasant surprise. Titled Satyaraj vs Rangaraj, it had the actor in his normal appearance sans makeup, interview himself in full getup as an actor.

The show was technically good with no apparent goof-ups in synchronization and such as the actor responded to his own questions. The interview itself was also quite interesting. It touched upon the actor's busy work schedule now, his recent crop of politics-tinged films, his longevity in an industry renowned for its short career spans, the immediate jump to hero status of current new entrants as compared to his gradual ascent in filmdom from extra to villain to antihero to hero and the image consciousness of some heroes. His responses were casual, down-to-earth, self-deprecating and delivered with the usual nakkal he exhibits in his movies. Overall, it was an interesting interview with actor who has been in the industry for over 20 years. But as he mentioned movies like Vedham Pudhidhu, Kadalora Kavidhaigal and Walter Vetrivel in the same breath as movies like Iyer I.P.S and Asathal, I couldn't help but be saddened at the steep downward slide of a very good actor's career...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Erin's fired!

Yesterday's episode of The Apprentice once again reminded me why I love this show so much! The tasks the two teams chose weren't exactly even but the team that I thought would lose initially(Magna, with its toy chest), ended up winning handily. Their prize was pretty cool too as they went up in a plane and experienced weightlessness at 0 gravity!

The pretty, forthright and flirtatious Erin seemed to be in a good spot as she returned to the boardroom with Chris and Angie. Chris' hotheadedness and Angie's poor management skills appeared to give Erin a way out of the boardroom once more. She started off well too, laying out Chris' weaknesses clearly. But she shot herself in the foot with the comment on whether Trump had to listen to Caroline and George. That one comment turned the tide against her completely as an irritated Trump, with full support of George and Caroline, uttered the words "Erin, you're fired!"

At this point my pick is Alex. He's quiet, dignified and does what's been given to him well enough. Lets see how far he goes...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

'Night'ly News

[Pic Courtesy Rediff]

For me, the best part of this news item about Night. M. Shyamalan switching studios from Disney to Warner, was that I finally learnt what his next venture was going to be! Titled Lady in the Water, the movie supposedly centers on the superintendent of an apartment building who finds a sea nymph swimming in the pool, setting in motion unexpected events! Quite a unusual plot that seems to have shades of Tom Hanks' Splash.

Like most viewers, I heard of Shyamalan only after his breakout hit Sixth Sense. The two movies he made before that, Praying with Anger and Wide Awake, have been on my to-see list for quite a while but I still haven't gotten around to renting them (Wide Awake is on my queue at Netflix but they don't seem to have Praying with Anger). I've liked the brooding atmosphere he brings to his movies, his knack at creating successful(and never overdone) 'boo' moments as well his ability in generating subtle humor in the most unexpected situations (this was most on display in Signs). Ofcourse I've also enjoyed the big final twist, which has kind of become his calling card, though they have become increasingly forced since the big twist at the end of Sixth Sense.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Clash of the Titans!

[Pic Courtesy Rediff]

As this and many other articles have pointed out, this Tamil New Year will see movies from both Kamal and Rajni releasing on the same day. The last time this happened was Diwali 1991 when Thalapathy and Gunaa were released. Since then, both actors have mentioned in interviews that they had mutually decided not to release their movies on the same day to avoid clashes between their fans. One wish of mine(and many other Tamil cinema fans, I am sure) is to see Kamal and Rajni act together in a movie. But with that not looking like its going to come true, I guess their movies releasing on the same day is the next best thing!

Off the top of my head, I can recall three other instances when Kamal and Rajni movies released on the same day. Surprisingly, in all those cases, only one of the two movies released the same day was successful while the other ended up a resounding flop.

The three instances I remember are
  • Gunaa and Thalapathy - with Thalapathy walking away with box-office honors
  • Thevar Magan and Pandian - with Thevar Magan turning out to be a huge hit
  • Aboorva Sagodharargal and Siva - with AS deservedly becoming a blockbuster
I am curious... Have there been cases where the actors both had hits released on the same day? If not, lets hope the jinx is broken on April 14th!

My Next Read...

[Pic Courtesy Phillip Margolin's Website]

I've just started reading Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin. I've read only one book, Sleeping Beauty, by this author before. That one was a regular serial killer thriller but had a more complicated plot and more well-developed characters than your average James Patterson novel. Lost Lake seems to have a larger canvas involving the army, covert operations and secret missions. Will let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Madras Bashai

A hilarious, entertaining piece tracing the origins of our very own 'Madras Tamil'. The professional look of the article contrasts wonderfully with the tongue-in-cheek analysis of the different words and their etymologies. I laughed out loud at several places while reading this one. Padichify and ensoy, OKvaa?

Monday, March 21, 2005

'Gemini' Ganesan passes away...

Tamil cinema's original Kaadhal Mannan, Gemini Ganesan, passed away early Tuesday morning. May his soul rest in peace...

Snapfish Snapped Up by H-P!

H-P announced today that it was buying the online photo service company Snapfish to gain a foothold in the online photo printing market. I guess its another sign of the times as the grand old man of computer printer companies acknowledges the spread of online photo printing. While ink cartridges still form the core of H-P's business, the company now has a big piece of its own competition too... Nice move!

With a digital camera but no printer, I have been a longtime user of online photo services and have printed photos from all three main competitors in the online photo printing industry - Snapfish, Shutterfly and Ofoto. I found the quality of prints from Snapfish to be better and more consistent though Shutterfly was better when it came to photo-based gifts (I recently ended up ordering one of those photo calendars from Shutterfly after being fed up with the limited options on Snapfish).

What is Vikraman upto these days?

Poove Unakkaaga, one of my favorite Tamil cinema romances, was shown on Sun TV yesterday. I found it as romantic, hilarious and touching as the first time I saw it proving that it still has not aged. It also made me wonder what Vikraman was upto these days.

I have always liked Vikraman more than the average viewer and critic. The positive, life-affirming and optimistic outlook of his films has in most cases managed to overcome the simplistic nature of his plots and his technically ordinary filmmaking. But not much has been heard about him since his last film Priyamaana Thozhi, which was a dud at the box-office. Interestingly, the Telugu version that he made simultaneously was a hit. This naturally led him to remake another of his movies but that one, a remake of the Surya starrer Unnai Ninaithu, was a washout. Is this going to bring him back to Tamil? Are there still any takers for his style of films? I know there's atleast one!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Taal - Overlooked?

[Pic Courtesy Roger Ebert's Website]

Roger Ebert, arguably America's most well-known movie critic, conducts an annual Overlooked Film Festival that, in his own words, "showcases overlooked films, formats and genres". This year's edition of the festival includes Taal, Subash Ghai's film starring Aishwarya Rai, Anil Kapoor and Akshaye Khanna.

I found Taal to be a strictly by-the-numbers, predictable love triangle set against the backdrop of music. It employed well-worn cliches(the heroine's father being insulted by the hero's family, to name one) in its treatment of the poor girl-rich boy love story in the first half while the second half was marginally better as it showcased an eccentric music director's love for the heroine. Its ending, in keeping with the rest of the movie, was cinematic and predictable too. On the positive side were a gorgeous Aishwarya Rai, a blockbuster soundtrack by A.R.Rehman and an energetic performance by Anil Kapoor.

While Ebert's review of the movie is scathingly funny, his liking for the movie and his appreciation for Indian movies in general, comes through (after all, he gives it 3 1/2 stars). Taal has a story with an abundance of sentiments, an ending respecting 'Indian' values, a sanitized, Bollywood-style romance, a universally acknowledged beauty as heroine, extravagant song sequences and is mounted on a grand scale. For Ebert, these elements are representative of today's Indian films, and so these factors, rather than absolute quality, seem to have been behind his selection of Taal for his festival. But even with those same parameters, me thinks he could have come up with a better choice. IMO, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam would have been a much better replacement. It includes all those qualities that Ebert is looking for but puts them together in a much better package.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Here's a wonderful article on happiness. Many things the author says, like the unconditional happiness enjoyed by children and the sacrifice of happiness by adults "in pursuit of the bigger and the better", ring so true. It is ironic that we pursue the bigger and the better to be happier but the same pursuit turns out to be so stressful that is eats into our present happiness! There are no easy answers to that one. But not to let small but precious moments slip away in the midst of this pursuit, is good advice. Though the article gets a little feminist towards the end, it does a good job of defining a very vague but elusive emotion. Now I gotta go and get a hug from my daughter!

The article also got me remembering Bobby McFerrin's feel-good number Don't Worry, Be Happy. Its simple, down-to-earth lyrics always manage to cheer me up. In stressful times like these, it deserves to be our national anthem. Keep smiling...

Cradle 2 Grave?

This article in Sify mentions that Vijay was not keen to act with Nayantara since she has been paired with 50+ heroes(her first 2 movies have been with Sarathkumar and Rajnikanth). Looks like pairing up with older heroes is turning out to be the equivalent of a cinematic graveyard for young heroines. Meena too publicly lamented about this problem a while back. She said that acting with Rajni and Kamal had unfairly given her an 'old' actress tag, thereby making the younger heroes like Vijay and Ajith wary of casting her as their heroine though she was young enough to be paired with them. But Jyothika seems to be bucking the trend. She paired up with Kamal in Tenali but has since acted as heroine with not just Vijay but even Simbhu! Poor Nayantara... guess we have to wait and see if being cast as S.J.Suryah's heroine in 36-28-36 changes her fortunes.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Good Honeymoon, Bad Ending

The worst part of any honeymoon is its ending. Thats the case with James Patterson's book of the same case too! It revolves around a black widow, a woman who has already killed a husband and is now targetting two more men, and the FBI agent out to expose her by posing as an insurance agent.

For the most part, the book is an interesting read. The agent's portions are in first person while the heroine's portions are in third person. So we know whats going on in both their minds and there are places where this helps in raising the tension. The short chapters almost always make you turn the page to the next and the main characters are interesting and a good match. But the ending is a big letdown. There is no big climax and even worse, no real surprising twists. A second storyline, which took up quite a few pages till then and is built up as though it is important, is tossed aside almost as an afterthought. There is no real sense of closure and we feel as if a few more chapters were left out during printing!

Chandramukhi - New stills

Sify has some new stills from Chandramukhi. Ofcourse this is coming from a Rajni fan but boy does he look great in these (especially the pattu vetti/pattu sattai one!). Just 28 more days to go...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

See Saw

[Pic Courtesy IMDB]

Saw the English flick Saw yesterday on DVD. Its a serial killer thriller but not your average one. A really screwed up killer, a non-linear screenplay and some gruesome imagery make this one stand out from other recent, predictable movies in the same genre like Twisted. The movie begins with two men chained to an old, dirty bathroom. Making the room messier is the bloody corpse lying between them. One of the men has to kill the other to get out alive and the MO of the killer leads him to understand that the Jigsaw killer is behind this one too. Heightening the tension is the fact that the man's family will be killed unless he kills the other man.

The movie itself is assembled like a jigsaw puzzle, with flashbacks serving as pieces that reveal more of the picture with each new piece. The director uses several techniques to heighten the tension and most of them work. There are also quite a few gory scenes that are not easy to stomach(in the case of 1 sequence, the sentence takes on a very literal meaning!). The movie manages to successfully make us believe that we have guessed the surprise but then blindsides us with a nice twist.

The movie is quite implausible and has some glaring loopholes. But both these are evident only after the end credits roll. It keeps us engrossed(and in a few scenes, en-grossed out!) as long its running and any movie that manages to do that gets a thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A walk down memory superhighway!

Yahoo!, celebrating its 10th birthday, has a very interesting 'Netrospective', highlighting 100 of the most significant moments of the World Wide Web in the last 10 years. From the launch of Yahoo! to the effectiveness of the web in collecting relief for the recent Tsunami disaster, the collection is a nice walk down memory lane. You can see the first version of Yahoo!'s online directory, meet celebraties made (in)famous by the web and read about the events/companies like eBay, Napster, etc. that defined the internet - both its boom and bust. With lots of the original links for each of the moments, this is a websurfer's delight.


[Pic Courtesy Swades Official Site]

Saw Swades over the weekend. The movie is an example of a well-intentioned but not particularly entertaining movie. The hype on this one was huge since it was from Ashutosh Gowariker, the director of Lagaan and starred Shah Rukh Khan, Hindi cinema's superstar who was having an amazing box-office run prior to this. But it tanked at the box-office, earning flop status within a week of release.

To me, Swades seemed like a glossier, more polished version of our own Kamal's Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi without its best parts (the intercaste romance and the father-son conflict). The story is about Mohan Bhargava(Shah Rukh Khan), an engineer at NASA, returning to India looking for his childhood nanny. The search takes him to Charanpur(a fictional village) and the plight of the village makes him set out to improve the life of its people.

The plot is wafer-thin and the movie is quite slow. This makes it more realistic but at the same time, it also seems simplistic and overly optimistic. I couldn't believe that Shah Rukh could, with only the villagers' help, build a complex system to generate electricity and that the villagers, rooted in years of tradition, would give up their beliefs and practices so easily. On the positive side, Ashutosh's heart is in the right place and he succeeds in bringing the difficult lives of the villagers before our eyes. Many of the characters, like the postmaster/wrestler and the man with the dream of starting a dhaba along America's highways, are likeable. Shah Rukh gives a sincere performance with the actor shining through more than the star and heroine Gayatri Joshi is easy on the eyes too. ARR delivers a soundtrack with emphasis on melody. One song is the same tune as the Baba Kichu Kichu Thaa number from Baba. The final song has great lyrics about an Indian's unbreakable link to his motherland.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Cho Chweet!

Pic Courtesy IMDB

Chalk this one up to minor sacrifices I make for my kid! With movies like Hostage, Constantine and Be Cool running, yesterday found me in a theater showing Pooh's Heffalump Movie! It was just me and my daughter as my wife cleverly talked me into buying her a ticket for Hitch, which was running on another screen in the same theater. As expected, it was not a very exciting time for me as Pooh and his friends tried to catch this elephant Heffalump and in the process learned about sticking together and not prejudging anybody.

It was certainly a big event since it was my kid's first big screen movie (she has seen a few minutes of The Incredibles on the big screen but more on that in a different blog!). This movie lasted about an hour, just the right length to hold the interest of a 3 1/2 year old (the popcorn helped too!). It is cute, doesn't have many slow scenes and has absolutely nothing scary or loud though the sight of the crying Heffalump did make my very sensitive little girl a bit sad.

For me personally, it was not a very exciting hour at the movies but the sight of seeing her laugh at Pooh falling into his pot of honey and Tigger and Rabbit running around with a log of wood stuck to them, made it all worth it!

Chandramukhi's Competition

Here's more proof(if it was even required) that items published as news on Tamil cinema websites should be taken with a grain of salt. Both Tamilcinema and Cinesouth have similar articles on movies squaring off against Chandramukhi on April 14th. But while Tamilcinema, which has always shown an obviously anti-Rajni stance, says that Rajni has requested(and succeeded) in making producer Thanu move back Sachin's release date, Cinesouth says that Mumbai Express has pushed back its release due to lack of theatres and that only Sachin is confirmed to open on 14th! I guess we should be happy that the one constant in both is that Chandramukhi is releasing on 14th!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Chandramukhi Teaser Trailer

With exactly a month to go before Chandramukhi's release, a small teaser trailer is online at the film's website. Its just a few seconds long and has nothing but a closeup shot of Rajni's face. But hey... its nice to finally see something more than photos!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Photos and Music on your TV...

[Pic Courtesy Linksys]

I recently set up the Wireless Digital Media Adapter from Linksys at home. Its a cool little product that lets you play the MP3s and photos on your computer on the TV.

After a little setup on the computer, the unit connects to your TV through RCA composite audio/video or S-Video. Since the RCA composite audio/video on my TV is already connected to my DVD player and my 10-yr old TV does not have S-Video, I had to connect it through my VCR. Setup was relatively simple (I already have a wireless network in my house) and it was up and running in about half hour. A simple menu allows you to navigate your designated folders to select the photos or music to load. So I now hear all the music on my computer in the living room without having to burn CDs to play in my music system. And I no longer have to crowd people around my computer to show off the latest photos! I just put them on slideshow on the TV (with the latest MP3 in the background!). Cool huh?!

Friday, March 11, 2005

John's out!

For everyone who'd come to dislike John more with each new episode of NBC's The Apprentice, yesterday was time to cheer as the candidate was fired by Trump. The reason was that he did not negotiate with the rock stars hard enough to get bigger rewards(all he got was that the stars would play for an hour in the winner's house and the winner would attend the launch party for a compilation album release) that would have really got the bids going in the auction. But IMO, he should have been fired for a lot of other reasons - speaking down the women, insulting them behind their backs, hogging all the time with the rock stars and not letting the other two speak and thinking too much of himself.

It was a good boardroom yesterday with Chris almost getting himself shot in the foot by stating that he was a better negotiator than John(which led George to ask him why he did not go to negotiate with the rock stars) and raising his voice with George and Caroline. But Trump eventually managed to fire the right man. And for a change, it was not the losing project manager who got fired!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Happy 2nd Birthday Da Vinci!

[Pic Courtesy DoubleDay Books]

MSN has noted that Dan Brown's blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code is celebrating 2 years in publication. Published in March 2003, its amazing that the novel is still on bestseller lists. Apart from creating records of all kinds, the novel has sparked intense debates, served as the source for other books and increased tourism to the places mentioned in it! Tom Hanks has been cast as the hero in the movie version, a choice not many of the book's fans are happy with.

I am not a big fan of historical or Christian novels and so the plot put me off from reading the novel a long time after it became a blockbuster. But when I did get around to reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Following the hero's chase based on clues hidden in famous paintings and other writings by Da Vinci, the novel was a great read that turned several common Christian beliefs around. But I had actually read the same author's Angels & Demons before that and was more impressed by that one. Its clues were cleverer - especially those ambigrams, words that are the same whether read straight or upside down (here's a cool example). Da Vinci Code's structure was also very similar to Angels & Demons. But the public and well-known locations where the codes were hidden and the new revelations about Christianity's well-known past probably propelled Da Vinci Code to success.

Dan Brown's next book is scheduled for mid-2005 release and is guaranteed to be a huge success on take-off. The question is whether it will even come close to Da Vinci Code's success.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Time for a Honeymoon!

[Pic Courtesy James Patterson Official Website]

No, no... nothing romantic about this post! Finally got my hands on Honeymoon, James Patterson's latest thriller and can't wait to read it.

Patterson is one my favorite authors, which is rather lucky since he is definitely one of the most prolific authors around (Stephen King, before he retired, was probably his only competitor!). I have read all his books since he wrote Kiss The Girls (I've even gone back and read most of his earlier ones). A fast pace, short chapters and a killer twist are his trademarks.

While most authors are glad to get one book out a year, Patterson releases two or three. He released three books in 2004 with the last one, an Alex Cross thriller London Bridges, coming out late last year. This year he has already released Honeymoon, which saw him collaborating with Howard Roughan. Maximum Ride, the next book in the 'winged children' series is coming out on April 11. And July brings 4th of July, the 4th book in his Women's Club series. This is one busy writer!

Jai Ram!

[Pic Courtesy Sify]

Both TamilCinema and Sify have given glowing reviews of Ameer's Ram. The director, who showed promise in his debut film Mounam Pesiyadhe, seems to have chosen a completely different story for his follow-up and succeeded with it too. Both reviews also single out Jeeva for a heartfelt and compelling performance. The film apparently is a moody thriller. With so few thrillers hitting the screen, I can't wait to see this one...

Music to the ears

With the soundtracks of Maayaavi and Chandramukhi released in quick succession, Tamil cinema music lovers have a lot to listen to. But its just starting! I read yesterday that the Mumbai Express album (Music: Ilaiyaraja) will released after March 15. Considering the quality of music from previous collaborations between Kamal and Ilaiyaraja, this album is definitely eagerly awaited.

And a Sify article today talks about two other hotlly anticipated movies whose music is atleast as hotly anticipated as the movies themselves. The Sachin (Music: Sree Deviprasad, who also composed music for Maayaavi) soundtrack will be released March 16 and the Anniyan (Music: Harris Jayaraj) album will be released in the first week of April! Music lovers... mark your calendars!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Jo... Jo... Jolly

[Pic Courtesy IndiaGlitz]

Jyothika is one of those actresses who has grown on me. While she was cute and endearing in her debut in a cameo role in Vaali, I remember laughing at her dance movements in Poovellaam Kaettuppaar, being irritated at her facial antics in Kushi and predicting a quick exit for her. But she has proved my words wrong. Since Kushi, the chubby and bubbly actress has focussed on her strengths and eliminated her weaknesses to emerge as a very popular and well-rounded (pun unintended!) actress.

Jo's had her share of hits and misses so far. She rebounded from a poor 2002, when she was almost written off, to star in huge hits like Dhool and Kaakka Kaakka in 2003. 2004 wasn't in the same leage but she was noticed for her double role in Perazhagan and rounded the year off with a hit in Manmadhan, while also earning high marks for her energetic dancing to En Aasai Mythiliye... with Simbhu.

Jo's fans have a lot to look forward to since she has two biggies coming out very soon. And she has quite a few things to be excited about in both the films. The first of these, if it gets its problems resolved, will be Maayaavi, where she is paired once again with Surya. The film, where it looks like she plays herself (atleast, she plays an actress called Jyothika), has her dubbing in her own voice for the first time. Sun TV had a first look at the film on Sunday and her Tamil was surprisingly good. She then appears in Rajnikanth's Chandramukhi in what sounds like a dream role for any actress - playing the title role in a woman-centric Rajnikanth film!

Chandramukhi Audio

Fans of Rajnikanth finally have something to listen to until Chandramukhi gets released! The audio was released at a grand function on Saturday, March 5. Rajni's speech had his usual mini-story and had the audience cheering. But the pick of the speeches was Vaalee's with its wonderful wordplays. Lots of sites have pics of the event and Indiaglitz has videos too.

Here are my feelings on the songs after a few listens...

Devuda Devuda - Rajni's usual introduction song, this time spreading the message 'Job is God'.Catchy tune and lyrics has you humming the first few lines pretty soon! And a pleasure hearing SPB sing for Rajni again.

Kokku Para Para - Has the catchiest start and interludes among all the songs but the stanzas could use a little speeding up to match the tempo of the start. Lyrics point to the song coming during the scene where Rajni, Prabhu, Jyothika and Nayantara are flying kites, which according to P.Vasu is a key scene in the movie.

Raa Raa - Melodious number which seems to be the all-important climactic song. Shobana in Manichitrathaazhu was a Malayali with the spirit taking her over being that of a Tamilwoman. The lyrics here, with a mix of Tamil and Telugu, would seem to indicate the combination here is a Tamil woman possessed by a Telugu spirit!

Konja Neram - Asha Bhonsle's soothing voice is the icing on the cake for this melodious number.Following the tradition of Kuluvaalile in Muthu, this one too inserts some personal stuff about Rajni inspite of being a romantic number.

Athinthom - Starts off slow and in quite an 'un-Rajni-like' way. But soon reveals itselfto be one of the typical 'philosophical' numbers from Rajni.

Annanoda Paattu - Generic, uninspiring number and definitely my least favorite in the album.

Overall, Vidyasagar has done what can called a competent job. Not as good as his Run or Gilli but definitely an improvement over Ji. But the album was definitely a good change from recent ones that have been overloaded with duppanguthu-style songs (Thiruppaachi was the worst culprit).

Monday, March 07, 2005

Another one blogs the dust...

Hi there... Thanks for visiting! As the latest new kid on the blog, I guess a short intro won't be out of place. I'm from Madras, India originally and came to the US to do a Masters in Missouri (and actually did manage to get a degree!) Promises of a job and warmer winters(not necessarily in that order) brought me to California and thats where I've been since. Like thousands of others in the Bay Area, I'm a software engineer by day. But don't worry, this blog's gonna be mainly about what I do when I'm not wearing the garb of software engineer...

So now that you're here, what can you expect to find? A lot on Tamil movies, thats for sure! But there are a few other things I hope to scribble down. You'll probably find thoughts on the latest book I've finished, feelings on music I heard, links I stumbled upon and found interesting and/or newsworthy, any jokes I heard and thoughts on any electronic gadgets I had the chance to play with (though more often than not, it'll probably be on gadgets that I wish I had the chance to play with!). And yes, with a 3 and a 1/2 year girl at home and another one - this one a boy - on the way, you will probably find "Oh! she/he was so cute when she/he did this..." and "Aaargh! How do you handle her/him when she/he does that..." kinda posts too from time to time...

At this point, I guess I'm simply hoping that you find some or all of the above interesting enough to offer your comments and keep coming back! And ofcourse, if you do not find things interesting enough, just let me know what will make them so...