Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Deepavali

- Waking up to the alarm of distant crackers…
- Donning new clothes…
- Sneaking off to burst a few crackers before my brother joined me…
- Setting off 100-walas and Lakshmi vedis and flowerpots and tharai chakkarams…
- Eating idlis and chutney for tiffin…
- Watching Pudhu Paadal on TV…
- Having lunch with our entire extended family…
- Organizing/taking part in games…

*Sigh* Today, I miss home just a bit more than usual…

Happy Deepavali!


Tamil cinema loves to stereotype its heroes and Vijay is definitely the most stereotyped among them right now. Walking into Sivakasi, you know exactly what is in store for you. And it does not let us down. It has fights, dances, sentiments and punch dialogs and in the middle, Vijay, obviously enjoying doing it all. That’s not exactly a bad thing. The problem is that Perarasu, who managed to package these same elements in an interesting manner in Tiruppaachi, fails to do so here.

Sivakasi (Vijay), a welder in Chennai, is an orphan. Hema (Asin), the college-going daughter of a rich jeweler, falls for him and Sivakasi reciprocates her love once he understands her sincerity. When Hema riles Sivakasi up about his lack of affection, he reveals his past to her. He had an affectionate father (Rajesh), a loving mother (Geetha), an older brother and a younger sister but had run away from home after his brother tricked him into accepting the blame for a wrongdoing. Under Hema’s goading, Sivakasi returns to his village after 15 long years but finds that his brother (Prakashraj) has still not mended his ways.

I have the same problem with Sivakasi that I had with movies like Dhum. Inspite of all the heroism, its hero is not a very likeable character. At different points in the film, Vijay comes off as being chauvinistic, egoistic, hot-headed, selfish, unreasonable and even callous. So we have a completely hero-centric film with a hero who is not likable.

The romance has a few fun moments as Asin plays a trick or two on Vijay though the same scenarios could have possibly been exploited in a much better manner by a more talented director. But it also contains some incredibly silly moments that don’t speak well of either Vijay or Asin. Added to this is the fact that we’re never really sure for quite some time if Vijay is in love with Asin or not. The only relief is that inspite of all pointers towards it, the film doesn’t turn into a cliched rich girl-poor boy love story.

Sivakasi’s second half is simply a rehash of Dhool as Vijay goes up against a politician. We even have the actress from Dhool, shouting and screaming in the same way. But Vijay’s plans here fall in one of two categories – they are either silly(like the whole sequence with Nayanthara) or distasteful(like the lie he makes his sister believe). He manipulates everyone around him unmindful of their feelings and gives some lame-a** excuse to rationalize it. The villagers are pretty much shown as fools who fall for cheap gimmicks and are swayed by theatrics.

Tiruppaachi worked because it had the right tone. The first half was all comedy and sentiment while the second half was devoted to action and violence. But Perarasu here seems unsure of the tone of the movie. This is very evident in the second half as Vijay’s mood varies alarmingly from one scene to the next. In one scene he is a clown, joking around with Prakashraj as he dupes him. And in the next, he is the dutiful son itching for revenge with bloodshot eyes. It takes an interesting screenplay and a charismatic hero to make such changes in tone seem natural and neither Perarasu nor Vijay possess the skills for that.

The one thing Perarasu has done well is ‘build-up’. Vijay has an amazing introduction scene that makes one itch to clap and the sequences where Vijay’s heroism is projected(using techniques like slo-mo, changing colors, etc.) are done well. But the scene where a stiff Perarasu introduces himself under the pretext of praising Vijay smacks of amateurishness.

Vijay expectedly dances and fights with gusto. But his expressions, dialog delivery and style are getting stale already. He may not lose his fans with Sivakasi but he’s not going to get any new fans either. Asin does her job well but disappears post-intermission, reappearing briefly for a duet. Prakashraj screams almost all the time he is on screen but his villainy is so over- the-top that it is completely ineffective. Vaada Vaada… and Kodambakkam Area… turn out to be the most enjoyable song sequences mainly because of Vijay’s dance skills. Nayanthara struggles to keep up with him in the latter though. The lone melody Idhu Enna… and the pathos number Dheivathukke… are played in bits and pieces at a few different places. Deepavali… and Ada Ennatha… are both marked by weird costumes and poor choreography.

Sivakasi offers rather feeble fireworks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


We carved the pumpkins for Halloween at our place yesterday. On display above are the Jack O'Lanterns carved by our group (Sundar was at the party too but had to leave before the photosession. His "Harry Potter" Jack O'Lantern can be seen here).

The "classic" Jack O'Lantern in the middle is the one carved by my wife, definitely the more artistic and less clumsy one among the two of us :-)

For a quick comparison, here are the carvings we made last year... Sure looks like we've become a more adventurous(and talented) set of carvers :-)

This Halloween, Kavya's gonna be a princess(Sleeping Beauty) while Karthik's gonna be a pumpkin. Can't wait to go trick-or-treating with them tomorrow night...

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Jumble - 7

Another Tamil cinema jumble... this time with a touch of Halloween :)

Unscramble the 4 words(could be Tamil cinema actors or actresses) to fill in the boxes. Now unscramble the circled letters to answer the riddle at the bottom.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Early Fireworks!

Vijay's Sivakasi is releasing Saturday, October 29 here in San Jose. So I will (hopefully!) get to see it 3 whole days before it opens back home. Cool! Let the fireworks begin...

PS: Vikram's Majaa is slated to open Thursday, November 4.

Rain Rain

Chennai's being lashed by some mega-rains for more than a day now. I spoke to my parents today morning and the first thing they said was "We feel like we're sitting in an island here!". They said that it had been raining heavily and non-stop since Wednesday afternoon and that there was more than knee-high water on all the roads surrounding our house. Schools and most offices were closed and my brother found out after getting to work in an auto that they had declared a holiday too (an IT company declaring a holiday... ironically, thats what made me realize how serious the situation was!). The EB voluntarily cut off power during the day(good idea!) and restored it around 5pm. So unlike some of the other worse-hit areas, they actually did have electricity when I called.

The situation seemed worse at my MIL's parents' home. There water actually seeped into the house and everyone had to move to the first floor. From what I heard, there was enough water to submerge a parked scooter! They are now getting drinking water and food from a nearby center.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Majaa Audio

Vidyasagar is the perfect choice to score music for Majaa. The music director, who has a nice track record on Vikram movies, nicely treads the line between class and mass, which is exactly what the film sounds like it needs. He does the same again here with most numbers being fast and energetic but never descending down to pure mass or duppanguthu songs.

1. Chee Chee…
The female singer's Chee Chee… which starts off the song made me think this was gonna be like A Aa’s Thazhuvudhu Nazhuvudhu…. But this is a more conventional duet. The lines spoken at the beginning reminded me (once again, after Sivakasi’s Deepavali…) of Vanithaamani…but only for a couple of seconds. The Chee Chee…bit is really quite catchy and the tune of the song itself is nice too.

2. Hey Pangaali…
A high energy song sung by Udit Narayan and Manicka Vinayagam, two singers known for enthusiastic singing. I liked this one on the first listen itself inspite of Udit Narayan as always screwing up the pronunciation. The lyrics follow the style of the title songs from Dhill, Dhool, etc. and talk about a variety of things that would cause majaa. The pick of the album.

3. Podhumadaa Saami…
A pathos number sung by Kailash Kher. The high pitches in the first couple of lines (and later on, in both the stanzas) are very catchy and sung very well by Kailash.

4. Sollitharavaa…
This is a melodious duet. Vidyasagar usually finds a place for atleast 1 of these in most of his albums but this one is definitely not in the league of Un Samayalaraiyil..., Aasai Aasai... or the older (and one of my favorite melodies) Malare Mounamaa.... The song’s start vaguely reminded me of an old 60’s/70’s number while the tune of the 2 stanzas reminded me of an 80’s number. Vidyasagar goes the Harris Jayaraj route with some humming in an unidentifiable language at a couple of places.

5. Thaimaasam Oora…
A folksy fast number with Shankar Mahadevan and Anuradha Sriram lending it their usual energy. Didn’t find anything special in the tune. But the lyrics are really brazen. The Maasathula… line kinda jumps out and makes you wonder if there’s anything that’s taboo for lyricists today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No Entry

Anil Kapoor plays a married man whose wife (Lara Dutta) suspects his every move. Fardeen Khan is a good friend who works with Anil and stays in his guest house. Anil is tempted when their married-but-straying friend Salman Khan tempts him to have a fling with Bipasha Basu, a dancer. Though Anil comes to his senses before any damage is done, he is forced to introduce Bipasha as Fardeen’s friend to Lara. That begins a train of lies, cover-ups and mistaken identities.

If the story sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because No Entry is a rip-off of our own Charlie Chaplin with Prabhu, Prabhu Deva, Abhirami, Gayatri Raghuram and Monal. The Hindi version simply mounts the same story with a better-looking(though not necessarily better-performing) cast and nicer production values.

No Entry borrows the funniest and most effective sequences (Fardeen’s wedding, the entire Mauritius sequence) without much change from the Tamil original while adding a few minor ones of its own. I even recognized some of the lines as being exactly the same. So the laughs come fairly regularly. I vaguely remember Charlie Chaplin taking a turn for the serious towards the end but No Entry maintains its humorous tone right up to the climax. I liked this better.

Anil is very good and has some nice comical expressions. Lara Dutta is impressive too. But both Fardeen and Celina Jaitley are rather stiff and go over-the-top in the few scenes they are supposed to act. Salman’s role almost seems like an extended cameo (the role was played by Livingston in the Tamil version!) and he is packed off to South Africa for a while in the second half. He has little range and acts exactly as he did in other comedies like Mujse Shaadi Karogi or Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?. Boman Irani is wasted.

Book Watch

David Baldacci's The Camel Club is coming out today. Now the wait at the library begins...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Coming Soon - Majaa, Sivakasi

[Pics Courtesy Dinakaran]

This Diwali promises to be a feast for only 2 categories of movie lovers – fans of masala films and fans of Asin. With Cheran’s Thavamaai Thavamirundhu now looking doubtful, both big films confirmed for release on Diwali are unadulterated masala flicks and have Asin as the heroine.

Vikram devoted an entire year to Shankar’s Anniyan. But with the film becoming a superhit and his performance garnering a lot of praise, his confidence in the director has been validated and he must now be breathing a big sigh of relief. After the heavy and rather intense role in that film, Vikram is now back with a lighthearted venture Majaa.

Majaa is a remake of the Mammootty-starrer Thommanum Makkalum. It revolves around a father and his two adopted sons (played here by Manivannan, Vikram and Pasupathy), who move to a village and take on the bad guys there. After Aparichitudu (the Telugu Anniyan), which was a big hit, Vikram is once again set to woo Telugu audiences since Majaa is being dubbed in Telugu and the Telugu version will get a simultaneous release on Diwali too.

Vikram is paired with Asin, who has apparently (and very deservedly, IMO) captured the collective hearts of Tamil moviegoers with her role as Kalpana in Ghajini. She plays a vivacious village girl in Majaa and we know now that that kind of a role suits her very well indeed. The soundtrack, by Vidyasagar, is filled with mostly peppy, racy numbers that confirm the movie’s lighthearted tone.

The other confirmed Diwali release is Vijay’s Sivakasi. Unlike Vikram, Vijay is coming off of a flop in Sachein. But Sachein was a deviation from Vijay’s typical movies while his last masala flick, Tiruppaachi, was a huge hit. So Sachein’s failure doesn’t seem to have affected his box-office standing (he’s rated second only to Rajni among the distributors). So expectations are high for Sivakasi, which is being helmed by Perarasu, who directed Tiruppaachi too.

Vijay appears as a blacksmith in Sivakasi and the sister sentiment in Tiruppaachi has been replaced by the ever-popular mother sentiment here. The soundtrack by Srikanth Deva sucks but might become popular if the movie becomes a hit.

I think I’m looking forward to both films equally. I like both Vikram and Vijay and after Ghajini, I’m one among the numerous fans of Asin. Majaa looks like its going to be clean and lighthearted and that’s always welcome. And though the violence overload put me off a little, I liked Tiruppaachi overall and feel Perarasu knows how to stage good action sequences and project heroism well. So lets sit back and wait for some good box-office fireworks.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


On the surface, Crash is an in-your-face look at racism in the United States since the film is built solely on the tension that arises when people from different races encounter each other in a variety of situations. But it also digs deeper than that. It tries to show us that there is no clear black or white when it comes to racism. Its all gray.

Like most ensemble films, Crash doesn't seem to have a set story with defined boundaries. It is set in Los Angeles, a city that is truly a melting pot of all cultures and starts off trailing the lives of a seemingly unconnected group of people from different races and different walks of life. But over the span of two days, it shows us how their lives crisscross each other's. There is a sense of unpredictability almost throughout the movie and there are scenes that bring us to the edge of our seats because of this sense of "anything could happen". The links between some of the characters happen as the movie proceeds. But as some tangential links are revealed towards the end, I couldn't help but applaud the movie's screenplay.

Crash uses a diverse set of people to capture all the nuances of racism in the US. All these people are guilty of being racist but not quite in the same way. We see some who express it overtly and others in whom it is dormant but rears its ugly head when in a crunch situation. We see people who stereotype others and people who stereotype themselves. And we see people for whom money or power matter much more than race.

Crash forces us to ask some uncomfortable questions about our attitude towards people of other races. Many times in the film I found myself nodding at something said about a particular race before realizing that that kind of stereotyping was why many of the characters in the film are not likable. But the film doesn't provide any easy answers either. Just as it has characters who break the stereotype, it has characters who fit it(resulting in some rather tragic consequences) too.

The film is quite brazen considering the sensitive topic it has dealt with. It has no qualms touching upon a Chinese woman's difficulty in pronouncing the letter 'r' or commenting on the tendency of Mexicans to park their cars on their lawns. At the same time, it is also bitingly funny at a few places(almost all of them during the conversations between two black youth).

Friday, October 21, 2005

2 New Reviews

Reviews for Chanakya and Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy are online at bbreviews.

Friday Jumble - 6

First unscamble the 4 words to fill in the boxes. Then unscramble the circled letters to answer the riddle below:

I'm pretty confident all the words today have only 1 solution :-)

Kodambakkam's Jared?

[Pics Courtesy Subway / Hindu]

Jared Fogle became Subway's mascot when he lost more than 200 lbs by sticking to a Subway-only diet. Now our own Namitha has apparently lost 10kg after a month of eating Veggie Delites at Subway! Having just seen Chanakya, I'm hoping that for the sake of Tamil cinema, she continues the diet :-)

Btw, the Subway employee deserves a prize for actually recognizing Namitha sans makeup, don't you think?!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Q & A

Q & A, written by an Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, has a very interesting plot. As the book opens, Ram Mohammad Thomas(yes, you do learn the story behind the strange name), a waiter, is arrested by the police from the slums in Mumbai. He recently won the top prize in W3B, a Kaun Banega Crorepathi-like quiz show with an even bigger, 1 Billion Rupees top prize. The producers, not ready to part with that kind of money, have Ram arrested since the uneducated boy could not have known the answers to all the questions and hence should have cheated. Ram is saved by a lawyer Smita Shah who then asks him to confide in her about how he got all the answers correctly. As Ram proceeds to recount past incidents from his very interesting life, Smita slowly begins to understand how he knew the answers to all the questions on the show.

In a way, Q & A, is constructed like The Five People You Meet in Heaven. In each chapter, we go back to a segment of Ram’s life and understand how the knowledge he gained in that segment helped him answer a particular question. The individual segments are interesting and span a wide array of topics like war, cricket, gambling, Bollywood and even contract killing. They are very different from one another and are never boring. So the book holds our interest and is a quick read. But sometimes, the frequent jumps back and forth do get a bit disorienting as we try to keep track of the timeline and the chronology of the events gets a little confusing.

The book is definitely not a pleasant read. Since Ram is from a poor section of society, his life has not been a bed of roses and his experiences reflect that harsh reality. There are unsavory incidents and characters in almost every chapter and by the time we finish the book, we have read about things like rape, incest attempt, suicide, physical and sexual abuse of children, and war atrocities. Some of these incidents are moving while others leave a bad taste in the mouth. There is a happy end to many of the unpleasant things but that doesn’t help dispel your feelings when you are reading them.

Vikas gets into James Patterson mode towards the end, throwing one twist after another at us. I usually like twists in a book but while the first twist here is good, the second seems like overkill. It is just a little too convenient. Both took me by surprise though.

Vikas’ writing is quite simplistic. If this is intentional (the narrator is after all, an uneducated waiter) or his innate writing style, I don’t know. But the literary flow that I expect from a novel is somehow missing. The metaphors seem forced and the novel is written in a very raw, conversational style. It is kinda tough to explain and so, let me say here what I told my friend. If someone told me the story of Q & A and asked me to turn it into a book, I can envision writing a book like this. On the other hand, even if someone told me the story of The Kite Runner and asked me to pen it, the resulting book wouldn’t be a patch on Khaled Hosseini’s book.

PS: Thanks Faffer for the pointer

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

15 in 15

IMDb, as part of its 15-year anniversary, had its staff members pick the top (as in, their favorite) 15 films of the last 15 years. Perusing the lists naturally tempted me to come up with my own list. So here, in no particular order(well, actually, in alphabetical order), are my top 15 Hollywood films from 1990 – 2005:

Fargo: Makes me laugh at things I shouldn’t be laughing at

Forrest Gump: A real epic that always makes me get a lump in my throat

Jurassic Park: Awe-inspiring and scarily believable

Liar Liar: Physical comedy at its hilarious best

The Lion King: A delight for the young and the old

The Matrix: Cerebral science fiction and explosive, trend-setting action

Pulp Fiction: High-energy romp with memorable dialogs

Run Lola Run: Quite possibly the most exhilarating film I’ve ever seen

Schindler’s List: Brutal but moving and life-affirming

Seven: The best film in the serial killer genre and an unforgettable climax

The Shawshank Redemption: The mother of all feel-good movies

The Silence of the Lambs: A superior thriller with a chilling villain

The Sixth Sense: Creepy and atmospheric with a great twist

Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Awesome special effects and thrilling action

Titanic: Moving love story with an epic backdrop

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Happy Birthday Jo!

[Pics Courtesy RmKV]

Inniku namma Jo birthday… So ellarum JOra oru thadavai kai thattunga! While I take a short stroll down memory lane with the birthday girl…

Jo was first seen as Ajith’s fictional lover in Vaali. She looked cute but it was a miracle I even noticed her since the heroine was Simran! She was expressive and bubbly but the following movies, especially Kushi, took those characteristics to irritating levels. I distinctly remember one particular scene in Kushi (where she apologizes to Vijay) which is probably the scene where she overacted the most in her career. She did tone her expressions down in movies like Mugavari and Dumm Dumm Dumm and gradually began growing on me.

Personally, 12B is the movie where I became Jo's fan. As I said in my review “she has toned down her facial contortions to just the right level and now one can marvel at the wide array of expressions she turns on and off with ease”. But the film itself was a box-office flop and with no hits for almost 2 full years, she was pretty much written off.

But 2003 saw the long-deserved upswing in her fortunes. She opened the year with Dhool; she was gorgeous and earned our sympathy in Kaakka Kaakka (my favorite Jo character so far); and she ended the year with another hit in Thirumalai. She continued the good streak in 2004 with a double role and a Filmfare award for Perazhagan and a hit in Manmadhan. And she can now claim that she played the title role in the biggest hit in Tamil film history! Way to go, Jo!

So here’s a very Happy Birthday to Kollywood’s most loveable heroine...


Jai Arjun got some hilarious answers when he ran Word's spellcheck on Hindi actors and directors [Thanks Amit]. So I tried doing the same on our own Tamil cinema stars. Not quite as hilarious but a few of them are really apt, wouldn't you say?

Rajni - Raging

Kamal – Kaman

Ajith – Apish :-)

Vikram - Vicar

Surya - Surly

Satyaraj – Satiric (my favorite)

Simbhu – Nimbus :-)

Vivek - Vivid

Vadivelu - Naively

Abbas - Babes

Simran - Siren (another favorite!)

Jyothika – Mythical

Asin – Asian

Sadha - Sad

Kushboo – Cashbook

Gopika - Topical

Cheran – Cheering

Bala – Bale

Monday, October 17, 2005

Kung fu Hustle

Kung fu Hustle truly defines the term ‘action-comedy’ with spectacularly-choreographed action and genuinely funny comedy. It goes completely over-the-top in both action and comedy (and in the little romance there is) but does so with so much style and energy that it is truly exhilarating. It does not have the gorgeous scenery or the elaborate, dance-like stunt choreography of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero. But in place of those it has a wackiness that never gets boring. So I liked this one better than those.

A word of advice. If you are gonna watch Kung fu Hustle, do so without learning about the cast or what roles the actors are playing. I had no idea who the film’s director and hero Stephen Chow was and was surprised almost consistently throughout the film. When watching with ignorance about the cast, heroes and villains spring up from the most unexpected places and its almost impossible to guess how the story will proceed and who the important characters are. That just adds to the movie’s fun.

This is a movie where how things are done is way more important than what is done. I mean, the stunts in the movie break laws of physics in the most outrageous ways and involve sound and air taking on an almost physical form and having enough power to cause considerable physical damage. But the stunts are staged in a way that makes these things seem perfectly acceptable. There is a comic element in almost all the stunts that aids in the suspension of disbelief. At the same time the seriousness of the fights isn’t lost and some of the moves are intricately choreographed. Its clear that Chow doesn’t want us to believe whats happening on screen. He just wants us to enjoy it.

The movie conjures up laughs in the most unexpected of places. There are some incredulous tone changes from one scene to the next as the movie proceeds and awe-inspiring stunt sequences close on an unexpectedly funny note. But the movie carries it off. Ofcourse there are some purely comic sequences (I especially liked one involving knives and snakes) that are downright hilarious too.

Kung fu Hustle is like nothing I’ve seen before. Since tastes are so subjective, I usually like to suggest movies along the lines of “If you liked that, you’ll like this”. But I realized that there’s no other movie I’ve seen that I can use as a point of reference for this one. So give it a shot. And if you love it as much as I did, then you’ve just discovered a whole new genre! As for me, I’ve already added Shaolin Soccer to my Netflix queue :)

Hollywood History

IMDb is celebrating its 15-year anniversary and has a special site up for the occasion. There's the usual 'Top Picks' (in the last 15 years) lists by the editors with an aggregated 'Top Staff Picks' list(on the left-hand side of the main page). That list surprisingly has Fight Club at the top and Schindler's List only at #11! A lot of fun reading and a number of interesting tidbits in their yearly history of films 1990-2005.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Making of Chandramukhi / 200th Day Function

Sun TV screened a combined 'Making of Chandramukhi / 200th day function' today morning. The program lasted almost 3 1/2 hrs (9.30 - 1.30 with a half-hour news break) and made for fun viewing.

The 'Making of Chandramukhi' segments offered some interesting peeks into behind-the-scenes action on the sets. They showed the actual shooting of a number of scenes followed immediately by the polished end result that we see on screen for those scenes. Quite a difference. There was nothing groundbreaking shown but the fact that we rarely get such behind-the-scenes glimpses for Tamil films made the sequences interesting. It was fun seeing P.Vasu act out each scene for many of the actors(including Rajni, Jo, Vadivelu, etc.) and then see them give their own spin to it. Ofcourse the shots of the actors relaxing between shots were nice too.

As always, the 200th day function was started off with mini-interviews with many of the attendees. I liked this segment since it highlighted individual contributors and helped me put a face to many performers and technicians(like Thotta Tharani) who I've admired. Also learned a few tidbits. For instance, I didn't know that Raa Raa... was Binni Krishnakumar's first song.

The dances by the troupes for a few of Rajni's old hits were the least interesting part of the show. They were choreographed OK but there were just too many songs. IMO, they should have had just 1 segment with a medley of some of his songs.

All speeches were predictably in praise of Rajni. I didn't feel any of them went on for too long(but I could be biased considering the subject of the speeches :-)

Rajni spoke last and once again proved that not many can give a speech as well as he can. His style was completely casual and his speech was the perfect mix of frankness, praise(for others), philosophy, humor and modest self-deprecation. He had the usual short stories that he used to convey some morals; he frankly clarified his wish to get Aish to act in his movies; he had some real nice things to say about Jo, Vidyasagar and P.Vasu but didn't forget Nayan or the cinematographer either; and he made a few humorous digs at his loss of hair and his white beard.

My favorite lines from his speech:
Thunbam illaama vaazhkaiye illa
Thunbatha thedi pogakkoodaadhu
Aana thunbam vandhaa nondhu poga koodaadhu

Friday, October 14, 2005

3 New Reviews

Reviews for Ghajini, Aayul Regai and Andha Naal Nyaabagam are online at bbreviews.

Friday Jumble - 5

First unscramble the 4 words. Then unscramble the circled letters to answer the riddle below.

Note: Some of the words may have multiple solutions but the answers are 4 simple, common words while the invalid solutions are rather uncommon words not used on an everyday basis. But based on emails, not everyone liked the multiple solutions. So I will post possible-but-not-valid solutions to the 4 words as the first comment.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Shriya - A bio-data

With the news of her being chosen as Rajni's heroine in Sivaji, Shriya is definitely going to be the toast of Kodambakkam, atleast until the movie's released. So go ahead, familiarize yourself with thalaivar's next jodi... (thanks Google!)

DOB: September 11, 1982

Place of Birth: Haridwar

School: Delhi Public School

College: Shriram College (LSR) New Delhi

Knows: Kathak

Loves: Dancing

First showbiz break: Music video 'Chalti Kyon Hawa' by Renu Nathan

First Telugu film: Ishtam

Biggest Hit(yet!): Santhosam

Latest Telugu Hit: Chatrapathi

Latest Telugu Film: Bhageeratha

Claim to Fame: Has acted with all top heroes in Telugu like Chiranjeevi (Tagore), Nagarjuna (Nenunnanu), Balakrishna (Chennakesava Reddy) and Venkatesh (Subash Chandra Bose)

TV ads: Coke, Ponds

First Hindi film: Tujhe Meri Kasam

First Tamil Film: Enakku 20 Unakku 18

Latest Tamil Film: Mazhai

Favorite Actors: Amitabh Bachhan, Shah Rukh Khan

Favorite Actresses: Madhuri Dixit , Madhubala

Finally, here's her only interview I've read so far after bagging the coveted role...

Sun TV Watch

I mentioned last week that Chandramukhi's 200th day celebrations were held recently and wished I could see the 'Making of Chandramukhi' VCD that was released along with the soundrack. Sun TV is screening the function AND a 'Making of Chandramukhi' feature this Sunday @ 11.30am. Lakalakalakalakalakalakalaka!

With an overdose of cinema(through a repetitive collection of cinema songs and clips), boring megaserials, painful comedy programs and biased, sensationalized news, there is little to watch on Sun TV these days. But its programs like this(and this and this and this) that stop me from disconnecting the service...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sivakasi Audio

It is obvious Vijay is trying to ape Rajni but does he have to do it even with the choice of music directors?! I remember those days when Kamal movies would have great music by Ilaiyaraja while Rajni would end up with music directors like Chandrabose! Is that why Vijay had Dhina scoring music for Tiruppaachi and now has Srikanth Deva for Sivakasi? Or could it be that A.M.Rathnam lost so much money on Ponniyin Selvan that he had to skimp on the selection of the music director here?

Whatever the reason, Srikanth Deva, who doesn’t seem to have a single original bone in his body, misses the the chance for a big break and fails to come up with even a single good song. The worrisome part is that if Sivakasi becomes a hit and the songs get a lot of playtime on TV, they could be labeled hits and get him even more movies!

1. Ada Ennatha…
An average duppanguthu number indistinguishable in any way from the other similar-sounding numbers Vijay has had in his movies ever since Apdi Podu… became a hit. If you hear this song without any other hints, you will immediately be able to guess that its from a Vijay-starrer but will be unable to name the movie. Its that generic.

2. Deepavali…
This is a high-energy song that is sung with enthusiasm by KK and Vasundhara. But it reminds you of a bunch of other songs at different places. The most obvious are the section starting with Neerum Neruppum…, which sounds like Vikram’s Vanithamani…, the veenai bit, which sounds like the bit from Vasoolraja’s Seenaa Thaanaa…, and the Tamilish rap interlude, which is exactly like the interlude in Anniyan’s Kaadhal Yaanai…. Still(and maybe because of all those inspirations!) the pick of the album though.

3. Dheivathukke…
Some respite comes in the form of this sober, pathos song overflowing with mother sentiments. It’s a very 80s sounding number (usually sung by the likes of Rajkiran) with a very ordinary tune. Most probably a bathroom/cigarette break for all Vijay fans!

4. Idhu Enna…
Again a number that sounds like it belongs to the 80s. It’s the only slow duet on the album but isn’t particularly catchy.

5. Kodambakkam Area…
Another distressingly unoriginal duppanguthu number. The Naan Superstaru Jodi Thaan line sung by the female would seem to indicate that this is Nayanthara’s item number (after Ghajini, “Nayanthara’s item number” is the scariest phrase in Tamil cinema right now!). Only interesting part of the song is a line which complains about high ticket rates!

6. Vaada Vaada…
The obvious intro song for Vijay with a number of lines targeted at his fans. Like Devuda Devuda…, this one too is filled with advice rather than self-praise and I kinda like that better. The lyrics here laud hard work, ask people to stand on their own legs, etc. etc.

iPod Video

[Pic Courtesy Apple]

So it turned out to be the iPod video after all. Everyone knew something big was coming at the Apple conference today. Guesses ranged from an iPod capable of video to new iMacs and Powerbooks. The latter guesses gained credibility since the iPod Nano complaints led people to think that the video iPod wouldn't be released until those issues were cleared.

But the video iPod was launched today. It plays 150 hours of video. It is similar to the old iPod but naturally has a bigger screen and video output to connect to a TV for viewing photos and videos. It comes in 30G($299) and 60G($399) versions.

iTunes has also been upgraded to v6.0 to support video downloads. There are about 2000 of then and they're gonna cost $1.99 each. Pixar is supposed to have some short films and Disney and ABC are offering few of their TV shows on the iTunes store. v6.0 is also supposed to have features like 'gifting', reviews and recommendations.

While I'm salivating over the video iPod from a new, cool gadget point-of-view, I'll admit to not being able to imagine a whole lot of situations where I can use it if I do lay my hands on one. The only times I use my iPod mini are during work or at the gym, both places where watching videos would be kinda hard :) So, for now, I'm happy window shopping at the Apple store and reading about how many millions of these video iPods Apple is gonna ship!

Rajni and Shriya?

Update: Looks like this could be true. As Prasanna mentioned in the comments, Shriya being picked as the heroine has been reported in The Hindu today. Btw, is it Shreya or Shriya?

The heroine role in Sivaji is still up for grabs. First it was supposed to be Ayesha Takia but that rumour's (thankfully!) died down. The latest name to pop up is Shriya, the heroine in the recently released Mazhai. That is her first Tamil film though she's apparently acted with all top heroes in Telugu.

Lets see if this is rumor or news...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Blog Impact!

Recently, there have been a series of issues that have caught the interest of the Indian blogworld so much so that every other blog you hop to has a post on the issue. First there was the furore over Kushboo’s interview. Then came the outrageous moral policing at the private party in Chennai. This was followed by the atrocities meted out to a guy at the Bangalore railway station. All these understandably outraged Indian bloggers and led to a flurry of posts (and comments) in the Indian blogsphere.

But in all the above-mentioned incidents, the bloggers were simply onlookers. Writers standing outside looking in and expressing their outrage. So while it was interesting to read bloggers’ takes on the issues, I wasn’t sure how much of an impact the posts themselves had. I mean, I didn’t think Ramadoss, Thirumalavan and the other Dalit Panthers would read the posts on their reactions to Kushboo’s interview and suddenly realize the importance(or rather, the existence) of a concept called “freedom of speech”!

But the latest issue involving one of IIPM’s alumni is interesting because one of the bloggers is smack dab in the middle of it and the issue has had a major impact on him. For the few who haven’t heard of this issue yet, here’s recap (which is a summary of a more detailed summary posted on IndiaUncut :-):

A few months ago Jam Magazine, edited by Rashmi Bansal, did a story exposing some of the claims made by IIPM, an educational institute run by Arindam Chaudhuri. Gaurav Sabnis, a popular Indian blogger, linked to Rashmi's article and added some facts of his own. A number of blogs sprung up overnight defending IIPM and defaming Rashmi and Gaurav. Ludicrous rumours were spread about Aaj Tak, the news channel, having done a sting operation and having caught Amity, a rival of IIPM, giving money to Rashmi to do the story. Nasty, personal attack-style comments were left on Rashmi’s post on the matter and Gaurav received a legal notice from IIPM. Then it got serious. IIPM happens to be a client of IBM, Gaurav's employer, having purchased a huge bunch of laptops from them. So they threatened to burn (yes burn!) the ThinkPads if Gaurav did not remove his posts. Though IBM gave Gaurav no pressure, he resigned his job yesterday.

While the developments have been unsavory, the mushrooming of this issue to the extent of a blogger losing his job over it is an indication of how much of an impact blogs have started having in society. Sure, bloggers in the US have been fired due to negative things they wrote about their jobs (it even led to a brand new term “doozing”). But this is the first time I have heard a non-work-related post causing problems in a blogger’s professional life.

I had not heard of IIPM (in fact, I still do not know what the acronym stands for!) before this and so read the posts with mild interest. But Gaurav’s principled stand and brave step have amazed me almost as much as IIPM’s acts have disgusted me. So here's a big "hats off" and "good luck" to him...

Sun TV and Kushboo

Sandhya pointed out in an email that both of Sun TV's special movies for Vijayadhasami have a Kushboo connection. She acts in Minsara Kannaa while she is the producer(and her husband Sundar C., the director) of Giri.

Thinking back to Minsaara Kannaa, she plays a headstrong woman with misguided values(she hates men because of something that happened to her when she was young) who eventually has some sense knocked into her. Hmmm... Sun TV indulging in some subliminal messaging here?!!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Interpreter

[Pic Courtesy IMDb]

The Interpreter is an absorbing political thriller. Its pace is a bit slower than movies that typically fall into the thriller genre but this allows it focus more on its characters and the interactions between them. And with actors like Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, that’s a good thing!

Nicole Kidman plays an interpreter at the UN. The President of the African nation of Matobo, who is accused of genocide, is arriving at the UN to give a speech and Nicole overhears a plot to assassinate him. Nicole grew up in Africa and has bitter memories of her life there. So her feelings about the President lead the FBI agent (Sean Penn) assigned to the case to view her with suspicion.

The movie has an intriguing premise. The line between good and bad guys is usually pretty sharply drawn in political thrillers, with the target of the assassination and the guys protecting him being on the good side. But the President here is a ruthless dictator, who is almost universally disliked. And the people protecting him couldn’t care less if he died. They just don’t want it to happen in the U.N or on U.S soil. This adds a sense of unpredictability to the movie.

Both Penn and Kidman are fully fleshed out characters. They are wary of each other initially and I liked them better then. Their initial conversations sparkle as they trade barbs and comebacks at a rapid-fire pace. They both irritate and respect each other. The similar emotional baggage they both carry understandably softens their reactions towards each other as the movie proceeds. So they become closer though I was glad the director didn’t develop anything overtly romantic between them. But the fun of their initial meetings is replaced by something more ordinary.

The movie attempts to dig a little deeper than usual thrillers. In the background is a thread on revenge and whether it really helps achieve closure. A story about a custom in Africa is used as an effective anchor for this. It is realistic seeing the characters grapple with the hard choice the story offers and we understand where they stand on real-world issues through the option they select in the story.

Penn and Kidman are solid as usual. Both of them internalize their emotions well with Penn especially, being an expert at expressing internal pain. Fast cuts make the movie move faster than it actually is and add a sense of suspense to otherwise ordinary scenes. Scenes are also frequently intercut with the dialogs from one extending into the next. This is slightly disorienting at times but ensures that the movie has our full attention.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

AayuL Regai

Yep, its a Tamil movie! I'd seen the trailer on Sun TV and it seemed quite different from the usual collection of song sequence clips that make up today's trailers. I was quite surprised to find it in the store since I had not heard of its release but rented it anyway. The film surprised me and I feel that it is worth a watch for those who complain about Tamil cinema never straying off the beaten track. So I thot I'd write a little bit about it here(the full review will be on bbreviews on Friday).

The movie boasts of a very unusual story. It starts off like a B-grade Hollywood slasher flick rip-off as a group of people congregate at a big mansion and then start getting eliminated one at a time. But it soon reveals itself to be aiming much higher as it turns into an exploration of the psyche.

The movie has quite a few surprises up its sleeve. But the initial scenes are staged awkwardly and anyone who has seen a few Hollywood films and 1 particular, much more high-profile, 2004 Tamil film, will be able to guess the route the movie is going to take. But it still holds a couple of good surprises near its finish.

Towards the end, logic is sacrificed at the expense of springing even more surprises. But the surprises do work and keep us from thinking about the story until the end credits roll. One surprise in particular completely blindsided me.

The movie is raw, stark and unflinching in its depiction. There were quite a few scenes (a boy's mother's death and a macabre see-saw in the middle of the forest, to name a couple) that literally shook me up. So it is not an easy watch. But this kind of portrayal helps create a very memorable lead character.

The director has bravely kept away from typical masala elements. So you don't have any silly comedy, ill-fitting duets or special-effects-laden fights.

The movie is packed with unfamiliar faces. Thennavan(the man with the knife in the picture above) is the 'hero' and he looks kinda familiar though I couldn't place where I've seen him. He seem a little stiff initially but gradually makes us believe in him. The actor with the rope on his shoulder in the picture gives a truly manic performance. With a wiry frame, unkempt hair and large eyes, he fits the role perfectly. Cinematography catches the eye. There are some unusual and imaginative camera angles(this is the 2nd movie in a row where I've seen a 'dog-cam'!) and the camera almost never stops moving. Songs play in the background and one of them was very catchy.

So if you are one of those who laments about the refusal of Tamil film directors to take risks and try something new, give AayuL Regai a chance. With a complex story, a complicated screenplay, unfamiliar actors and no masala elements, its Tamil cinema at its riskiest!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tech Question

This morning, I replaced the old DVD drive on my computer with the spanking new, DVD+/-, dual layer writer from Sony. The jumper setting is on CS select(as it was on the drive I replaced). When I switched the computer on, XP helpfully told me it recognized a new Sony DVD drive through the pop-up on the taskbar. The device manager shows the DVD drive and I'm even able to burn DVDs using Nero. So far so good.

But when I use Windows Explorer or My Computer, the DVD drive is not listed. Auto run CDs I pop in there do not get launched either.

This is just a minor irritation since I'm able to burn DVDs and I do have another CD-ROM drive for reading CDs. But it just seems weird and is driving me crazy. Any ideas?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Jumble - 4

First unscramble the 4 words(no plurals). Then unscramble the circled letters to answer the riddle below.

"CYA" Note: Some of the words may have multiple answers :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Kanda Naal Mudhal Audio

The Kanda Naal Mudhal soundtrack is a delightful one. Two of the tracks never fail to put a smile on my lips and the album on the whole brims with energy(and not the fast beats, duppanguthu-style energy either). For Yuvan Shankar Raja, the songs here are as far away as possible from the songs in movies like Raam and 7/G Rainbow colony and the listenability of this one is proof his versatility. Chalk up one more hit for the ilaiya Raja.

While I usually look forward to soundtracks from high-profile movies like Chandramukhi and Anniyan, this soundtrack has made me look forward to the movie eagerly. And if the SUN TV trailer is any indication, the picturization does do justice to the spirit of the songs.

1. Kanda Naal Mudhal...
This one begins like a typical Carnatic song. But the western beats are a pleasant surprise and make it sound more like a remix of a Carnatic song(possibly the first ever?). The song and the beats blend nicely and inspite of the fast beats, the song never loses its melody and flows smoothly from start to finish.

2. Panithuli...
This song is kicked off(and then interspersed) with some funny lines(aduthadhu aduthadhu eppovunnu maamiyar kekkum munne ara dozen pethu kodunga!) but is actually a very soft, melodious and catchy number. Shreya Goshal, with her smooth, golden voice, once again reminds me why she is my favorite female singer while Kay Kay sings the high pitches with passion.

3. Erimalai Naane...
My favorite number in the album so far. The song starts off like one of those numbers playing in the background during a hero's rags-to-riches saga(kinda like Vetri Nichayam...). But we soon realise that it is more a war of words between a man and a woman. The Paar Inge Porkalam... section is sung with such enthusiasm by Shankar Mahadevan. The lyrics are hilarious(nee irukka dhrushti sutha poosanikka thevaiyillai!) and inspite of the everyday conversation-like words, the song still has a very hummable tune. I like every second of this song, right upto the ominous-sounding war beats that finish it off.

4. Merke Merke...
Shankar Mahadevan sings this one with his usual intensity and his deep voice contrasts nicely with Sadhana Sargam's timid voice. The lailailai... humming adds pep at the right places. The 2 stanzas have a very catchy tune.

5. Koo Koovena...
The 2nd humorous number in the album, this one has the guy and gal exchange romantic words while another guy and the gal put each other down. The tune isn't as catchy as Erimalai Naane... but the lyrics are just as funny(dhaayakkattai kaiyil illaa sakuniyada; kondai illaa veenai illaa naradhanadaa). The romantic and funny lyrics coexist nicely without damaging the flow of the song.

6. Pushing It Hard...
I'm not a big fan of YSR's singing since he screws up the high pitches and his pronunciation leaves a lot to desired too. Not too many high pitches in this number and so he is actually quite listenable. But the rap song-like number reminded me of a number from Pudhukkottaiyilirindhu Saravanan during its Tamil portions. Definitely the number I listen least to on the album.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is one of the best books I have read. In essence, it is a tale of guilt and redemption but is written with such honesty and simplicity that it turns out to be a true roller coaster ride of emotions and feelings.

The book is populated with some of the most vivid and beautifully-realised characters I have ever come across in a book. Hosseini's descriptions of their physical and character traits make them so complete that they seem to jump right off the pages. We picture them in our minds and get the feeling that we've actually known them all our life. We form an emotional bond with them and that makes everything they go through surprisingly real. The narrator's guilt, his father's pride, his friend's loyalty - these characteristics make them living, breathing people we get to know intimately.

The story provides the opportunity for the characters to run through a gamut of emotions and Hosseini's talent lies in describing these emotions with great clarity. This leads to some very powerful sequences. The 'big' sequences are expected. They are designed to get a reaction from us. But there are several smaller, unexpected incidents that have a similar impact. My favorite was one towards the end of the book where the author feels good about gifting his watch to the children in the house he stays in before realizing just how wrong he was about what they wanted. Moments like this truly make the book soar.

The book's big surprise is easily predicted but it still hides a number of smaller surprises in its pages. But the big surprise helps the book traverse a path that illustrates the truth in the 'Circle of Life' concept. As similar events get replayed, with some old and some new players, the book achieves a sense of real closure. The ending is still not definitive but hints at positive beginnings in a way that is truly exhilarating.

The book could easily stand on its own as a character-driven tale. But the Afghanistan setting adds something special to the mix. The unique culture lends a nice flavor to the proceedings early on and the tumultous changes the country went through provides a fascinating backdrop to the story. It is obvious Hosseini loves his country and he brings its decline before our eyes with his descriptions of both its land and its people. The state of the country when he returns also adds a sense of adventure and urgency to the proceedings.

Regular readers, move this book right to the top of your to-read list. And non-readers, give this book a shot to understand the sheer pleasure that arises out of immersing yourself in a good book.

PS: As a side note, the book included a few things familiar to me. The kite-flying contest includes a description of how to make manja - bringing back memories of the days of kite-flying from the mottai maadi of our house in Madras. And in America, the action is set in the neighboring city of Fremont.

PS2: Thanks to Mitr for bringing the book to my notice.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chandramukhi Catchup

Nethu night thalaivar kanavula vandhu, romba naaLa avarai pathi onnum post paNNalenu romba varuthappattaar. With Shankar apparently still working on the Sivaji story, there's not much news about that film. So here's a quick update on Chandramukhi, which is still going great guns and nearing 200 days :-)

- The 200th day celebrations of the film were held on October 1st. Though it was officially only the 170th day, October 1 was selected since it was also Sivaji's birthday. Jo couldn't make it since she is in Mumbai visiting her ailing mother but everyone else who was part of the movie was there. Apart from his family members(Dhanush, Aishwarya, Soundarya and Latha), Vijay was in attendance too.

If you remember, Rajni said at the Chandramukhi audio release function that he was keeping his speech short and would speak more at the film's silver jubilee celebrations. Pretty cool that it really came true! His speech had the usual philosophical stuff about not letting defeat keep you down and working hard for success. He was also quite open about his admiration for Aish.

- Chandramukhi is going to be screened at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival. Since Chandramukhi wasn't released in Japan, this would be first chance for the Japanese to catch the movie. They better get their aarthis and torn lottery tickets ready :-)

- Chandramukhi's complete soundtrack(BGM, dialogs, etc.) was released recently. Looks like Sivaji Films is out to milk this one for all its worth :-) Personally, the soundtrack doesn't appeal to me much(especially since I own the DVD now!) But the 'The Making of Chandramukhi' VCD to be sold along with it sounds interesting. Wouldn't mind a look at that one :-)

- Chandramukhi's movies costumes, props, etc. were auctioned off on eBay India and Rajni's coolers, the first item to be sold, fetched Rs. 25,000. The winners were supposed to receive the items from the Superstar himself during the 200th day function. Not sure if they showed up for that.

- The film is the first Tamil film to complete 100 days in South Africa. Superstaru yaarunnu kEttaa, South African kuzhandhaiyum sollum :-)


Sunday, October 02, 2005


Ghajini is an action movie but it is mainly propped up by romance. It is a good thriller that boasts of an interesting concept with a lot of possibilities. It has very few dull moments and is consistently entertaining. But at the same time, I couldn't help being a little disappointed at how little it did with the concept it picked. What Ghajini does, it does well. But in the end, I was left wondering how much more it could have done.

Sanjay Ramaswamy(Surya) has been afflicted with Short-term Memory Loss ever since he was hit on the head with an iron bar. He remembers the incident clearly but apart from that, he cannot remember anything beyond the last 15 minutes. So his whole life is guided by clues he leaves himself through notes, photographs and self-inflicted tattoos. And all these clues seem to lead him towards killing Laxman(Pradeep Rawat), who in turn is wondering who is after him. A police officer(Riyaz Khan) catches up with Sanjay and from his diary learns of his past as a millionaire businessman and his romance with Kalpana(Asin), an ad-film model. Meanwhile, a final year medical student Chitra(Nayanthara), who is interested in Sanjay's case from a medical point of view, becomes more involved in his life than she wants.

Whatever the source may be(and in this case its Memento), Ghajini is based on a very interesting premise. The short-term memory loss and the means Surya uses to overcome the affliction offer some tantalising possibilities for the film's direction. The initial scenes where we realise how difficult even day-to-day activities(like returning home from an outing) are for Surya and see how he manages to accomplish them are most interesting parts of the movie. But they are just too short. Its like the film offers some interesting taste samples but doesn't serve the full meal. For instance, I would've loved to see the story behind the photograph marked "Don't believe him".

The film sets the stage for a very clever and interesting thriller. And then changes track completely as it jumps to the love story between Surya and Asin! From a pure entertainment standpoint, I have no complaints because the love track is a complete delight. It is based on the rather weak point that Asin doesn't know(and doesn't try to find out) who Sanjay Ramaswamy is but easily makes us overlook the point with its cuteness, wit and humor. The fact that Surya and the audience are privy to a secret Asin isn't makes the proceedings very funny. The track keeps us smiling throughout and there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Murugadoss proved in Dheena that he knew how to craft a very cute and endearing love story and he proves it again here.

My disappointment arises from the opportunities lost with the main track. As the Surya-Asin track carries on(and on, after a break where we come back to the present), there is always the feeling in the back of the mind that it is cutting into the time the story will have after getting back to the present. And the feeling turns out to be right. The short-term memory loss part is rarely brought into the picture after the flashback ends. Interesting complications(like all Surya's clues being destroyed) are resolved in simple ways and the movie turns into a regular revenge film filled with chases and fights. So it even seems to drag a bit.

The 'lost opportunity' phenomenon is seen on a smaller scale in the screenplay too. There is a nice twist regarding the villain that could have thrown up a great complication. But it is dealt with in a lame way and serves no purpose other than to throw in some nice special effects in a few scenes.

Surya once again pretty much lives his role. His expressions and body language as he deals with his problem are superbly done. And he is every inch the rich businessman in the flashback. He oozes class and is very believable. Asin proves to be the Amala of today - slim, pretty, expressive eyes, bright smile, good acting and a great knack for comedy. After a subdued role in Ullam Ketkume, she is back to her playful, jolly M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi persona here. And I loved her. She impresses in the few scenes she acts serious too. When she is scared, we are scared for her too. And she has the ability to touch us too with just her eyes.

I always thought that a single movie wouldn't make me change my opinion about an actress but Ghajini proves me wrong! I'm talking about Nayanthara. She looks bad(whose bright idea was it to give her a nose ring?!), fat(and her dresses do nothing to hide the fact) and overly made-up. Her costumes in the X Maatri... song sequence made me cringe and make her look very vulgar and cheap. And its a double whammy in her case since her character is badly etched too. She does some pretty illogical things at many places in the film. Ghajini was a bad career move for her. Asin simply eats her up. Pradeep Rawat doesn't shout as much as he did in Thotti Jaya but isn't too menacing either.

I don't usually notice the background score in a movie unless it really stands out(as in, say, Idhayathai Thirudaadhey). Harris Jayaraj's background score here stands out too but not for the right reasons. It is a virtual cacophony of sounds and a full assault on our ears. The background music in many scenes just doesn't match the mood of the scene or even what goes on during the scene. He makes up for it with two very good melodies in the soundtrack but Murugadoss makes a mess of their picturization. Oru Maalai... is inexplicably picturized as a group dance(and not a very good one at that) and only the scenes that show Surya and Asin in their regular personas save it from being a complete disaster. Suttum Vizhi... is atleast not a group dance but Surya's steps in that one look plain weird. Its like he's part of a one-person aerobics class or something. Rangola... is fun to watch and Rahatula..., Asin's introduction, looks like a rap video

Someone who does make us sit up and notice is the cinematographer. There are some nice angles and camera effects(there's even a 'dogcam'!) throughout the movie. The digital effects in Suttum Vizhi... are neatly done and the climax fight has some nice digital tricks too.

Ghajini is a marked improvement over the recent string of disappointments in Tamil cinema. But it could have been so much more.