Friday, October 31, 2008

When Kamal was Prince of Love

Kamal Haasan, a wonderful actor, has many titles conferred to him, either by authorities or fans. To me he is simply a good actor. But otherwise, he is also Padmashree Kamal Haasan, Aalwarpet Andavar, Super Actor and more recently, and most popularly Ulaga Nayagan (Global Hero…a title that is not sanctioned by United Nation, unfortunately).

But how many fans, especially the younger ones, know that he was once known as Kathal Ilavarasan (Prince of Love)…a sort of passing of mantle from Kathal Mannan (King of Love) Gemini Ganesan? Well, the type of roles he did those days gave way to that title. So, here I want to examine a little bit on Kamal in his Kathal Ilavarasan days.

As many of us now, then, he did many films with Sri Devi. We know he won the first national award for Mundram Pirai. Here he plays a teacher who falls in love with amnesia-ridden Sri Devi, only to lose her in the end as she recovers from the extended memory relapse.

His work was already exemplary before that, through Pathinaru Vayathinile. Here, he plays mentally challenged village bumpkin who falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her in the end because he was jailed for killing Rajini.

Speaking of Rajini, Kamal appeared with him earlier in Mundru Mudichi in an extended guest role, in which he falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her, because he gets indirectly killed by Rajini.

Death also plays a part in well essayed role in Vazhvey Maya, where he plays a playboy who sincerely falls in love with Sri Devi, only to lose her because this time its not Rajini but cancer which kills him.

More adventures with Sri Devi in Kalyanaraaman, where Kamal plays Kalyanam, a simple minded heir who falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her because he gets killed by the bad guy. As a compensation, his brother, also played by Kamal gets Sri Devi, only to lose her later for reasons unknown as we learn from the sequel Jappanil Kalyanaraaman.

Both Kamal and Sri Devi was in one of the most disturbing psychological thriller of all time in Tamil film industry, Barathiraja’s Sigappu Rojjakkal. In it Kamal plays a schizophrenic rich man who falls in love and marries (phew) Sri Devi only to lose her in the end because, among others, he killed K. Bagyaraj.

Moving away from Sri Devi, Kamal appeared with Rajini in Ninaittaley Inikkum, in which he plays a singer who falls in love with Jaya Pradha, only to lose her in the end because Rajini kills her. Sorry, actually she dies of brain tumour.

Kamal appeared again with Rajini in Ilamai Unjaladugirathu, an epoch making youthful love story, where he falls in love with Sri Priya, only to lose her when he gets involved with another woman. Nobody gets killed here, but Rajini gets Sri Priya in the end.

Kamal was reunited with Jaya Pradha in the awesome and brilliant Salanggai Oli. In it, Kamal plays an amateur Baratha Natiyam dancer who falls in love with this muse, Jaya Pradha, only to lose her to Sarath Babu. Rajini was nowhere to be seen in this film though it should be noted that Rajini “lost” his sister to the same (yes, the same) Sarath Bahu in Mullum Malarum.

The whole Rajini factor ruining Kamal’s relationship actually started in Rajini’s first film itself. Apoorva Raganggal saw Kamal falling in love with Sri Vidhya only to lose her because Rajini has to die from Leukemia (go figure, its complex psychological situation).

Apoorva Raganggal was a K. Balachander’s (KB) film. KB was reunited with Kamal and Rajini in two follow-ups, Aval Oru Todarkathai and Avargal, where in those films Kamal falls in love with Sri Priya and Sujatha respectively only to lose them because it’s a KB film dammit!

Moving on from the black and white and low budget KB films to colour and location extravagance, Kamal acted with Rathi in bell bottom fest Ilamai Unjaladugirathu which proved indefinitely how much the measurement of the cuff of a bell bottom pants can indirectly influence the way Kamal dances. In this, he plays a rich businessman who falls in love with Rathi only to lose her….ah my memory. I think she dies hit by an asteroid. Can’t remember, getting old.

All these roles begs one question: Who in the right frame of mind ever thought of giving Kathal Ilavarasan title to Kamal? Thank god he moved on to be a good actor.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dog Day Deepavali

I am a cat lover and had always been bar one incident involving clawing incident in the dark. But I forgave that cat long time ago. Plus it might be dead by now, and there is no greater sin then bearing grudge over a dead soul.

As much as I can, I had always been instrumental in promoting the act of loving cats, and at times accepting them as the only saviour of the human race if the whole world was annihilated by tragedies like asteroid attack, flooding caused by global warming or return of the pop culture icon like Vanilla Ice. I am also a staunch supporter of Cats Rights Action Forces (CatRAF), though the organisation has not been formed yet.

And I had always been a dog hater. In my life I had never ceased from cursing dogs, and even calling them names like – sorry for the vulgarity - “son of a bitch!”

But imagine my horror when I got back hometown early this week when I discovered my parents, yes, my own biological parents, adopted three puppies!!!

Or in my mom’s word, “No, no. They adopted us.”

You see, my parents are now in an estate owned by Atlas Ice Holdings Bhd. Yes, the same company that produces the ice cubes that you get in restaurants when you ask for Milo Ais, and you get about 80% ice cubes and about 20% hot Milo, which later melts the ice and your Milo Ais taste not much different from the drink your colleague is having, which is probably Air Suam.

That an ice cube producing company holds an oil palm plantation raises plenty of questions. What does palm oil has to do with ice cube? Hah! I can see a conspiracy theory coming, but I am too lazy to concoct one.

Well, as I said it’s a small estate, with population ratio of homo sapien and canis familiaris at 40:60. Yes, 40% human and the rest are dogs. Or at least that is what I feel considering the number of mutts hang around, like street gangs, near our house.

Anyway, during my last visit I got to hear that there was a pregnant female about to give birth. I left the next day, and it seems it gave birth to six little puppies. Three got killed along way (one was run over by tractors which is no faster than a steam roller…puzzles me about dog’s rapid response claim).

Somehow, they ended up (begging for food as usual) on my parent’s house porch. And my parents - their generosity knows no bound…I mean, really(!) – decided to feed them. And they stayed on.

Two of the puppies are female, not so subtly named Blackie and Brownie. From what I know dogs got no race issues, so Blackie is not derogatory for them. But the third, male, have a name that might confuse them – Chillu. For all you know in dog language Chillu can mean, “Booger head” or something.

And this Chillu character is very attached my parents. If my dad drives out to town, it will follow his car right up to the main road and when he comes back, he will rush forward and follows the car back to the house. It’s dangerous! I mean, dad could easily run the dog over and damage the car radiator.

Okay…okay…I was kidding. It could kill the poor defenceless puppy which shoulda know that running alongside the car is not exactly a walk in the park. Come to think of it, while walking in the park, you could be hit by a falling tree branch. So, running alongside a car is not exactly walk in the park with no trees.

And when dad gets off from the car, Chillu will be running around him restlessly. It now has to be petted and dad has to give it verbal assurance that he is not going away, that he still loves Chillu, and Chillu is a good puppy. Then, Chillu gives mock bites showing he is cool, and have calmed down!

I was enraged by this attention seeking behaviour. So, when opportune time came, I sat next to him and told him this: “Lookit here, boy. I am eldest here, Capish? Don’t give me this attention-seeking bullshit. I do that part. You just eat your dog food and catch robber or something.”

To which. Chillu promptly responded by licking its paw! I guess it inherited my rebellious streak (no, I don’t lick my paw)

Of course, out of respect for my parents’ decision, I did, like…, play with them and all. We also had some male bonding moments. When I pet Chillu, I came away with loads of sand in my palm. The dude’s been rolling in the sand when we repeatedly told him not to. That lovable ras…I mean, that annoying rascal!.

Whatever it is, my brother’s kid had good time with the puppies. Only time the puppies were missing was when my brother was playing firecrackers with the kids. Ha-ha! How do you describe scared dogs? It was fun watching them scampering around…from a safe distance myself of course. Heh.

Anyway, I guess you sometimes have to accept what happens to you in life. I may be a cat lover, but it doesn’t mean that I have to hate dogs for the rest of my life. Maybe the next few years, but these puppies, their antiques, the way my parents describe them like they are some adorable human kids…I don’t know. Maybe I might warm up to them…like I did during the bonding moments.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crappy Coffee

Disclaimer: This posting contains the use of the word “shit” sparingly. You will see the reason why I have to use it. Its highly disturbing and I shit you not.

To say that I used to be addicted to drinking coffee would be an understatement. I’d drink away six to eight mugs (yes mugs as opposed to jugs) of coffee a day! This was during the earlier of journalism when I thought I was the smartest person on earth because I can start a sentence with “Meanwhile, Muthuramalinggaswamigal said….”

Of course, I knew now that I was dumb then, just as I am now, with a difference! I have considerably cut down my coffee intake. So, adding to that, and after severe hair loss and weight gain, I am now only slightly smarter than Syed Hamid Albar.

What I am about to bring to your attention will shake you to your roots (unless you are not a tree)? The news is not new, by the way. I mean, I have left journalism and so, I need not have to be very current when it comes to news.

For example, I just found out that the first man on moon was not Edmund Hillary. I know, I know, laugh all you want. Of course, now I know that the first man to set foot on the moon was Syed Hamid Albar*.

Speaking of knowledge, do you realise how scientist are always changing their discoveries. I am, first and foremost, pro science. Secondly, I am pro cat, but that is an entirely different, serious, soul searching issue.

What irks me is this: One year, they tell you that coffee is safe to drink, and then another year they tell you that coffee is shit!

Which bring us to what I found out recently – Kopi Luwak.

Yes, this Indonesian coffee is made from beans picked up from civet cats dung which have ingested best coffee beans.

My question is this: Are civets cat? I mean, really? Like can you pet them, and do they nap all day long, beg…err…I mean, gets food served, and rub themselves against your ankle?

Okay, the real issue is: Does coffee from Indonesian civet cat poo exist? You betcha!

Here’s report from CNN, part of its list of world’s priciest food:

Civet coffee, aka kopi luwak Estimated price per pound: (US)$110 and up

This rare coffee has the dubious distinction of being consumed before the customer has even taken a sip. The palm civet, a cat-like animal also called a luwak, ingests fresh coffee cherries but doesn't digest the beans inside. After the beans pass through the civet's digestive system, workers collect them and wash them in spring water. Supposedly, the civet's digestive enzymes make the beans less acidic, improving the coffee's flavour.

See….and people are paying up to US$100 for it. Yes, people bitch about rising fuel price and food cost, but there are some who don’t mind paying a lot for exotic things. Yeah, exotic. Here’s the next paragraph in that report:

Peter Longo, owner of New York City's Porto Rico Importing Co., is drawn to all things exotic and novel, so when he first heard about civet coffee, he knew it would be perfect for his store: "It was right up my alley - such an odd and unique thing."

Well, Locco, I mean, Longo, what is odd and unique about coffee bean discovered in civet’s poo! That’s not exotic. That is shit, literally.

The next paragraph quotes Longo:

"It's actually mild and smooth, with a piquant aftertaste," Longo says. "It's very good, as long as you don't let your imagination get the better of you."

Few years down the road, I can imagine, there will be bunch of coffee lovers at coffee tasting session with that day’s specialty on Civet Poo Coffee.

Critic A: Great, it’s smooth, with excellent finish. Almost smoky.
Critic B: Ah, it must be the forest fire in Indonesia, must have scared the shit out of the civets.
Critic A: Excellent analysis!

Oh, the humanity! What has the world come too where people can drink coffee from treated animal poo? I mean, have you ever heard of drinking water treated from sewage? What did you say? What Singapore? Oh. Well.

Aside: Oh my, I should be careful with my comments, or I’d be condemned by Civet Poo Coffee Bean Coffee Drinkers, Fans and Supporters (CPCBCDFS, try saying this ten times). End of aside.

Well…considering my good relationship with non-governmental organisations like WWF and PETA…I have only this to say: Civet Cat Poo Coffee is the best thing that has ever happen to the world.

I mean, not only it promotes healthy coffee bean eating habit for the Civets, the animal will no longer be killed senselessly like other endangered specie…until it start developing digestion problem of course.

Other than that, Civet cats are great noble creatures that deserve extra attention for shitty reason. People who have killed civets are basically defecating on the future of specie survival. I better stop before I start making crappier “shit” related puns.

*kidding. The first man to set foot on moon was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was immediately detained under Internal Security Act by Home Affairs minister Neil Armstrong for posing great threat to moon dwellers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Public Transportation Zombies

Aside: The production of Batam pt 4: I Never Planned For Part Four has been postponed indefinitely due to budgetary problem and poor response from Pt 3. The producer regrets to inform that plans for further sequels and animated TV series too has to be shelved. End of aside.

Hang on. Aside again: This blog will be the first time I attempt something on horror. Yes, this is scary. It is happening in Malaysia, in the worlds only city that consumers greatest amount of Roti Canai and Nasi Lemak, Kuala Lumpur! Be afraid. Be very afraid, and while you are at it, you have something sticking on your nostril. End of aside

Today I am going to talk about public transportation. Yes, we all know how much public transportation in Malaysia suck, blah, blah, blah. It’s not exactly what I am going to talk about. Okay, it is what I am going to talk about except it is not going to be the subject that I am going to talk about. Hang on…what I meant was…

I have gone as cuckoo just like our public transportation system. The point is the current realm is such that it is beginning defining who we are or has become. I tell you why…

I have changed job, and my new place is right smack in the middle of city centre. I am no longer a journalist. As you all know journalists enjoy great time flexibilities, which mean I could still be sleeping in my warm bed when you guys are in a meeting attempting to postpone yet another plan.

Yessireebob, my days of journalist have ended, when I accepted the job of editor for the marketing department of recently. It is going to be a highly corporate environment, which means strict 9 to 6 routine and one hour lunch. In my journalist days, our lunch hour is subjective and has no precise definition. It is either a quick 15 minutes munch, or can last as long as parliament session if nobody has assignment on that day, especially when I have craving for that anuty’s Char Kuey Tiaw in SS2.

Now, driving to work is out of question. Jalan Kuching, which I have to use, is not traffic friendly from 7 to 9 in the morning. You want to challenge me on that notion? Well, try talking to drivers using Jalan Kuching at that time. See how friendly they are!

You see, traffic hardly moves that time. Try it, next thing you know you’d be Michael Douglas from that film Falling Down. Jalan Kuching is becoming Federal Highway pt 2 as best place to experience traffic jam, if you like that sort of thing. You do, don’t you?

So, to avoid that godforsaken road, one option I had in my mind was to drive to Taman Melati, Gombak, and take the LRT from there to KLCC. Cool, I thought. Back to my old public transportation days, where I could use the time sitting in the bus or train to read a book, or take a short nap with my head rolling all over the place and freak the other passengers out making them think that I have gotten into trance while sleeping.

Anyway, plan was afoot and I told myself, “dey, ditch late morning habits. Time to move on. Turn over a new leaf. Bake a new bread. Dig a new grave, etc” and motivated myself to wake up early the next day.

With much difficulty I did get up early, around 6.30 am, and crawled myself to the bathroom. It has been a long time since I got up that early, that in all the blurriness and that strange mystical sound that could be the sound of my bed calling me back, I almost brushed my face, and shaved my teeth.

Only when I stepped out of the apartment, that I suddenly got conscious and told myself, “dey, you have to drive, so wake up a**hole! (I revert to namecalling a lot these days…must stop listening to the parliament sessions).

I got to Taman Melati in short time, which I did while laughing mockingly when I passed vehicles in Jalan Kucing below the Outer Ring Road roundabout that were moving as fast as legless coachroaches. Woohooo!

All the joy ended when I saw the queue waiting for the Putra light rapid transit. There were about four queues stretching all the way to the escalator at the door opening point. I suddenly remembered my fiancé, Linda’s complain, the things she had to face in her daily commuting (she uses KTM commuter). But since she also complains about my singing (my take on Jim Morrison is a must) and cats generally, I chose to ignore her complaint.

But here I was, in same situation. I can now relate to Linda’s complain (“Hah! Padam muka!” is the kindest words she could offer to my current predicament)

So, the train came in five minutes time, but I was in for another shock! Yes, Prime Minister Pak Lah was in it!!

Hahaha. I am pulling your leg (don’t worry, you still have seven left). One trip in KTM Kommuter was enough to convince Pak Lah to reconsider date of power transition (my personal theory, don’t put me in ISA please). I don’t think he would ever want to use our public transportation again!

No, the shock was to see that the train was already crowded. You see, this station is the last, but dudes and gals from stations preceding already got into it, so that they will have seats or comfortable places to stand when the train reverses its journey.

And when the door opened, a miracle happened! Without using an inch of effort, I found myself in the train. Amazing!

How? The force of course. The force put me there. No, I am not talking about “Luke, use the force” force here. I am talking about the other passengers who pushed me, who themselves were pushed. That put me in the train; in a space that you can’t even swing Jerry the mouse. There goes my plan to read a book. Talk about first priorities between reading a book and swinging Jerry the mouse. Phew, that’s tough.

But here is the scary part: the passengers. As the train moved, lolling and bobbing over the track, the passenger, and I am not making this up, were just there still, taking the lolls, the bobs, the bumps and the thumps, their eyes empty as a vacant lot, the expression as still as cave painting and with apparent care for fellow passengers as cats would with spinach.

They have become zombies! That’s what I see. All they need is a bit of ugly make up and torn and shred clothes and they can be used to do a sequel to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.

Every morning I take train to work I see them, though the faces are different. Amazing. What is happening to my fellow dwellers of Klang Valley?

It is not that I am belittling them (now, including me, it’s us). It’s that inept public transportation is making us to become like this. I urge the government to do something about it or face the grim future of zombies roaming all over the country looking to cram inside every available mode of public transports!!!!

I can already feel it. I am becoming one of them! I am now already a public transportation using, The Sun newspaper reading public Joe….the only consolation being, my name is not Joe. Sigh. Gad, I can feel numbness in my face already. Heeeeeeeelp!