Monday, June 21, 2010

Tamizh Film Review: Ravanan

While driving back, I was thinking of Vikram’s performance in the new much awaited Mani Rathnam film, Ravanan. The gestures, the facial expression, the way he tilts his head and gaze, the roll of the eyes, the screams, the yell, the shout, the whisper….I was impressed, but something hit me. I have seen that before, and it was in a modest little film called Thambi and Madhavan utilised this higher-gear style of performance and it went on under appreciated. Since Ravanan is a big budgeted film helmed by who is perceived as one of the best Indian filmmaker, they will be dolling out awards to Vikram. Madhavan’s is still the best and most daring to me (considering the mediocrity of his film), but Vikram did well and should be one of the main reasons to watch Ravanan.

The other reasons? For one, the film is a visual feast for viewers. Fantastic cinematography, amidst the forest, and some wonderful action sequences should be the reason why you should start booking the ticket if you haven’t seen it already. The climactic bridge fight alone should make you sit through the movie till the end. Mani Rathnam hardly disappoint us when it comes to delivering fantastic sight and sound feast and he is not compromising it now.

Also to be noted is the performances of the supporting casts. Prabhu is well utilised, but being a fan I wished they had shown a lot more of him. For example, during a key point, Vikram is shown grieving, but the incident should also affect Prabhu who is Vikram’s brother. Nope, only focus on Vikram. And then, I realised this, showing a grieving Prabhu means eating Vikram for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and that midnight trip to the fridge. That man is that good. But never mind.

Also, it’s nice to see Karthik back in full form, the man has never aged the last fifteen years and his physical fitness is well used, as well as his sense of comic timing. Pritviraj fits in well as a cop with dark side, and Priyamani shows up in flashback (the key incident I mentioned) and proves again why she is one of the finest actress of our time.

Which brings us to what was supposed to be the central part of the film – the heroine. Played by Aishwarya Rai, she again raised the question I had in my mind almost a decade ago: “Why is she still in the industry? What have I missed? Isn’t she easily one of the worst actress around?”. Here the filmmakers intent was, no matter how dirty, and messed up she is physically, make sure you get the makeup right. Anytime she rolls over the mud, falls into pit, she comes out still looking like she had just walked off the Miss World stage. Her character needs our empathy and I had a lot more sympathy for the transvestite character played by Vaiyapuri than her. She alone would have ruined the entire film if not for the redeeming factors I mentioned. It would have been wonderful if it was Priyamani playing that role instead.

Also, while the background score was awesome by the ever impressive A.R. Rahman, can they get him to lower his workload. There’s blaring music almost all the time, and with such gorgeous location, I would have loved to hear the sound of the forest a lot more, the trees branches swishing, the birds tweeting, the macaque screaming. I don’t remember any of that. Guys, ARR is great, but it doesn’t mean that you spread his music like a thick lather of jam over the bread.

There are loopholes in the script, and sometimes the dialogue gets heavy handed that you just don’t bother trying to understand the characters motivation and intent. Get your eyes feasted and walk out satisfied that it was worth the tickets, coke and pop-corn you spent on. Not the best Mani Rathnam effort, and not his worst. But definitely needs a visit in the big screen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to deal with World Cup 2010 for the Less Enthusiastic.

The World Cup 2010 will kick off today, and I can already see some of you reaching for blade to cut your wrist saying, “We know that!!! It’s all over the place and we are sick of it! And can you stop using ‘kick off’, why can’t you say ‘starting’, ‘opening’, ‘launching’, fer Pele’s sake”

Alright, relax. I am too afflicted by this barrage of media advertisements, promotions, riding on, cross-promotions, product placements, sport celebrity endorsements, and cringe-inducing comic panels from the Star newspaper’s C.W.Kee (Premise for every-frickin’ day: man is so enthralled with World Cup that…), but there is no denying that deep down, right inside your heart and mind you are feeling the excitement. No matter how un-football friendly you are, you are either in or you are better off homeless and untouched unless someone has six-foot pole nearby.

Let’s face it, the entire world is excited by Word Cup…with exception of the United States which says football is a game where the ball is passed with hands. Yeah. US. It had two Bushs as president remember? Though they have a team for the game they prefer calling soccer (pronounced ‘sucker’), the game is somewhat more popular with ladies. Perhaps they have the guts to play without those ridiculous helmets and there’s no additional expense in getting ball-guard.

Anyway, my point is this: Love it or not, the month of June you have to bear with it. I like the game just like the next man, but my enthusiasm for it has waned over the years, like the woman next to the next man. Sure, I’d be rooting for Argentina, a team I was supporting since I was seven when I can’t even spell Argentina, or other South American countries due to memories of the fan-days where I felt they played exceptionally great game. But, it’s no longer like how I used to. For one, I am not going to stay up late to watch the games, nor am I getting up early. I have enough issues with Insomnia already.

It often stated that usually female members or partners in a family suffer through this period no thanks the male members’ obsession with the World Cup. Alas, this is not true when it comes to me and some cat families. My wife is obsessed with it, so much so that I pray and hope her favourite team, Brazil, do well at least to prevent domestic violence. Turning up at workplace with blue-black eye and blaming it on World Cup is not good for my career prospect.

So, if you are like me, here are some tips on how to deal with certain situations:

The Game You Don’t Really Care

Trust me there will be many of these. So, if your partner is enthusiastic about a team, the country you never even know existed, show enthusiasm as well. Here’s a sample conversation:

Partner: That damned (player name) shouldn’t have handled the free kick.

You: Yes, damned *&^%$%, can I get you another pack of peanuts, honey? (so that you can wash your face, or anything to keep you awake).

But things are about turn nasty, if you partner asks you for an opinion, which is rare because they all have opinions and usually are not interesting in asking. So, just in case:

Partner: A corner kick, finally. Who do you think should take it?

You: May the right man take it. As long as he scores, right?

Partner: Which team are you supporting again?

You: I think you are running out of peanuts

Yes, diplomacy helps, keep lots of peanuts or popcorn in stock.

The Game You Care, but It’s Your Team against Your Partner’s

In my case, what if Brazil meets Argentina somewhere. I like Brazil as much as the rest of the world, but how do you support both teams? You have to take a stand don’t you? I have two suggestions:

1. Just give in to your partner’s team. Say you hope her or his team wins, coz you know already they are winning the cup

2. Say you have urgent work to do and hide under the bed throughout the game.

3. If you are caught under the bed, say you are not well and …..

Forget it, you will be brought back kicking and screaming, at which time the neighbour might alert the police, and the cops can take care of the situation. Unless they too support Brazil.

The Madness Building Up.

Yes, you cannot avoid this. Your partner will speak, eat, drink, inhale, ingest, consume and burp World Cup all day long. They say; if you can’t beat them, join them. So, if things get out of hand, call mom and say that you are coming back and going to be there for the entire World Cup. Of course, your mom would cut the line because her favourite team just scored a goal.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

4 Other Responsibilities for Samy Vellu So He Can Resign Soon.

We all know what is happening in MIC*, with Samy Vellu the president still hanging on to his chair, and his party ex-members forming comically named group called GAS (Gerakan Anti Samy, [Anti-Samy Movement]) which makes sense, unless you take into account that Samy also means God in Tamil. This is not new as we all know that many who have tasted power wants to cling on even if it means that they have to die and come back as Zombie, in which case I suspect Samy is.

Anyway, The Star newspaper columnist Joceline Tay wrote a nice piece in which she said:

"…American Idol judge Simon Cowell said on Thursday night as the cast toasted his last season with the reality show: 'You gotta know when to leave the party.'"

And she proceeds to advice:

"It is best to step down when you are still in control of your exit plan, when the party is still on, and not after the music has stopped"

Trouble is, Samy’s exit plan includes sacking anyone including those who sneezed during a meeting, even if the fellow is not a party member. The damndest thing is, he is leading a party that was supposed to be representing Malaysian Indian community, and I personally did a survey recently and found out that it actually represents a certain rodent family and few marsupials that respond to old Tamil songs.

Anyway, since the party itself is irrelevant to that community here, it’s about time Samy move on and do something else. Which is apt as he was recently quoted as saying that he will resign early if he is given other responsibilities. Right now, it’s not clear what kind of responsibilities these are; for all you know it might be sacking his Malay teacher or something.

So, to help him I decided to make a few suggestions on the “responsibilities” he can take on so that he can leave while the “party is still on” so to speak. Dear Samy, when you are not busy writing poetry**, you can take a look at these:

1. (Long Term) Leadership Guru

Look, the man has been a political party president for a frickin’ 22 years, a cabinet minister for 18 years and that’s a record and there has to be a reason why he hung on to his chair that long. These are my suggested programs that can help youths of today become political tyrants of the future:

a) Taking the bull by its tail: Shirking responsibilities and facing issues with your ass turned towards it.

b) Hand that bites your ass: Choosing the right deputies (wieners) and right hand wan…I mean, men.

c) Crowd Control: Get total attention during meetings and kick questioners ass.

d) Getting Away: Mistakes, mismanagement and manipulations.

e) Nepotism: Never pass on your big mouth to your political heirs.

f) Mind Your Language: Mangle your way to media’s heart.

g) Deflective Shield: How to blame everyone else.

These are merely suggestions, I am sure Samy has huge storage of experience, knowledge, anecdotes, and copies of police reports and legal suits that he can share with us. Of course, there is a trait in leadership that requires a separate title and responsibilities, and I mean becoming a…

2. Anger Management Guru.

Look, he has been there and done it. His hot temper is known from coast to coast, ocean to ocean, dust to dust, etc. Day in and day out his anger knows no boundary , with his blood kept on boiling to the point that he has to periodically stick some dry ice onto certain orifice to cool himself down***

But I am sure there are other methods he employs to manage his anger that he can share with many of us. Let’s face it, if there are two things we cannot control, it’s anger and hunger. I say so, because they rhyme. But anger destroys, and Samy knows that too well. Some of the programs I suggest for Samy to share with us:

a) How to control your anger by sacking someone.

b) How to postpone your anger by sacking someone.

c) How to sack someone to control your anger and postpone it.

d) How to control someone by postponing your anger and sacking it.

Wouldn’t it be awesome, if we learn about fire from the fireeater himself. Samy can help to bring good mood and humour in your life. Which brings us to…

3. Standup Comedian (in Malay)

Samy’s mangling of the Malay language is legendary. I am sure one day someone will write the tome, Hikayat Samy Vellu, with students arguing whether or not it’s based on the real man, because the amazing amount of language goofs in it. The author of this blog post have similar doubts too but let me assure you that most of it are true.

So, all samy has to do is just stand (or sit, depending whether he had just shoved the dry ice) and respond to queries. It will have audiences in stitches, and Samy would have finally found his real niche. Which brings us to…

4. Hair Transplant Ambassador.

Contrary to what folks think, that thing on his head is not a shrink-wrapped dead Siamese cat. They are actually follicles as a result of Hair Transplant, Extreme CombOver™ and industry strength Glue (let’s abbreviate it to HTECOG). I, especially, know this well having had the capability, since I am balding myself and have watched many Sean Connery movies, to differentiate real hair, wigs and doormats. So, those real hairs has been on that head for around two solid decades now, and Samy has been unfairly ignored as a great maintainer of tresses that is probably transplanted from his armpit.

It’s time to give him that credit and I suggest Samy approach any leading hair transplant service provider and offer himself to be the ambassador for the industry. He can preach the virtue of HTECOG to balding males, as opposed to those spidery combover that terrifies even adults, much less small children and wigs that looked like dry cow poop. Since there are just one too many balding males, at a mature age, it’d be easy for everyone to relate to Samy as a fellow baldy who recovered with HTECOG.


So, there you go, Samy. Pick up one of these responsibilities or all of them and resign. Let the others deal with the bothersome business of managing a political party and take on one of these responsibilities. And fast, because your expiry date as Zombie is nearing.

*(For non-Malaysian reader) That’s a Malaysian Indian party, abbreviation of Malaysian Indian Congress…any links with Mahatma Ghandi is purely coincidental. Some of the members want the president to resign, like, now.

**True. He writers poem to the newspaper that is linked with him, Tamil Nesan. The poems may be about as creative as a five year old, at least they rhyme.

***I read it somewhere. Either that or I made it up, not sure.