Thursday, December 15, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
When our great great ancestors decided that they are going to ascend to the ground from living in the tree, they were immediately eaten by sabre-toothed tiger. Those who survived it went on to look for home that can shelter them against all sort of weather. Soon, they found caves where they were immediately eaten by hibernating bear.
But cave was beginning of what would be known as home, as clearly evidenced by archaeological discovery of bones of men inside bones of bear. It was in cave that archaeologist’s found many obscure instruments including weapons to fend off ferocious creatures like the abovementioned tiger, bear or in-laws.
Historians argue that cave dwelling could have begun during the early Neolithic period around 7000 – 6000 BC. When we checked last, they are still arguing and might also take up arm. But as Neolithic era also saw men building houses though at the same time people were still living in cave, tent and extreme poverty.
Great, great ancestors building houses (that probably had bat or other type of dung)
Historian, when they are not arguing, estimated that house building began in Egypt and West Asia probably about 10,000 BC and in Greece about 6000 BC. Alright there seemed to be conflict on the date, so they may still be arguing after all. While they were at it, the English came to the party late and only build houses at 3000 BC.
To the uninitiated, BC years are kinda backwards. The more the number the further away the year is. Of course, the next question is, if a dude was born in 3000 BC and at 2990 BC, would he be ten years younger? The BC dudes and gals were lucky, weren’t they? We can imagine the following conversation at a birthday party:
Gal: Dude how “young” are you?
Difference houses including the ones that kept blown away
Okay, back to the house.
The kinda houses they had back then depended on where the location was. The weather made lots of difference. In Northern Europe and Northern China, they build what was referred to as “hearth houses” which were huts with one square or round room (think studio apartment) and a fire on a stone hearth in the middle, this to heat up the room as well as to do weekly barbecue (except the Heinz sauce was not invented yet).
The smoke goes out through the thatched or shingled roof. Often animals are kept in the room with the people, for warmth. And depending on the animal, the human are kept in the room for good diet.
The weather is different in Egypt and West Asia, as well as in Southern China and possibly this author’s living room, whereby it was hot all the time, and you can’t get wood. So, they use mud brick and were basically just wall with flat roof where they can sleep and expose themselves again to cool night and wakeup with pneumonia.
Beginning of the modern house, or, wait for it.
Semblance to modern housing could have begun somewhere around 3000 BC itself where Eastern Meditteraneanan and West Asia had richer folks and they built better and bigger houses, not unlike now where some mansions look like they were built for that beanstalk giant. Or Godzilla.
In the meantime, the Greece folks were building “megaron” houses that transforms into a gigantic Trojan horse…wait, that’s a Transformer. A megaron house, boringly were the ones with one or two rooms and pillars in front making a porch.
It seems the bigger houses also have nice brick floors, and built-in benches and cupboards, and painted walls, and tiled roofs, and lots of people in airy toga.
So, there you go some basic information about houses back then. Of course, history did not stop there, and it ain’t stopping now either. It’s getting late and we need to get home. If only someone chase away the hibernating bear in it.
Monday, November 14, 2011
|Tamil caption didn't say, "where's the goddam dog?"|
Monday, October 31, 2011
|Actual Bhodi Dharma and his, err, one pack.|
Friday, October 21, 2011
|Kamal, not looking at his fans.|
Monday, October 17, 2011
|Rajini, Jyothi and one of the many useless vehicles |
in Pudhu Kavithai.
Friday, September 23, 2011
If there is one constant mistake celluloid god is doing is to provide Rajini with endless stream of soon to be dead sisters. Well, three* to be exact, as far as I know. Bhairavi should be Rajini’s first dead on-screen sister (the fact that an actress who played his sister in another film died off-screen should add to the eerie factor).
Sometimes revisiting these old films, you discover a bizarre moment or two. Or in the 1978 movie, Bhairavi's case, a total WTF gem that I shall reveal later. Alongside some scientific revelation as to why Rajini switches his costume from lungi and singlet to pants and unbuttened shirts halfway through the movie. Read on to find out more…
Considering its weekend and I am lazy, here’s the synopsis I purloined from IMDB (the normal font is my addition):
Mookaiyah (Rajini) and his sister Bhairavi (Geetha) are children of a drunkard who are left to fend for themselves. After Bhairavi is lost in an accident, Mookaiyah becomes a manservant at the home of a local landlord, and grows to become the landlord's faithful crony, taking unquestioning orders from his boss. The boss, Rajalingam (Srikanth), gets Mookaiyah to abduct a young girl from a neighboring village - Bhagyam, who he proceeds to rape. Manikkam, Bhagyam's brother (Some dude), swears vengeance on Mookaiyah who gets the blame for the incident. Meanwhile a revelation is in store for Mookaiyah. Written by Joyojeet Pal (Do they make “friend” pun jokes on you, Pal?).
But first things first, does anyone use the word purloin anymore? I know it sounds like cat’s groin or something, but that’s a nice word I picked up long time ago from Poe.
Well, the synopsis end with “a revelation is in store”, and before you guys go, “what store?”, I have actually gave out the spoilers. Yes, the Bagyam in question is non other than Bhairavi, Mookaiyah’s long lost sister (In a Oedipal/Fruedian twist, Geetha would appear as Rajini’s secret admirer in his dream in Ninaittale Inikkum). So, indirectly our friend, this Mookaiyan, was responsible for her rape, and later, her death.
Now, here’s something that bugged me. Obviously Rajini is the hero, but he got second billing here after Srikanth. Probably seniority, and Srikanth himself takes a break from playing betraying sibling/son of Sivaji Ganesan and plays betraying landlord of the other Sivaji, Rajini, who plays the Mookaiyan in question here.
Aside: V.C Ganesan, who was christened Sivaji Ganesan by Periyaar, also played a Mookaiyan several years earlier in PattikAda Pattanamaa. If that is not enough to confuse you, how about the great actor playing Rajinikanth in Gouvaram, a name later adopted by budding actor Sivaji Rao Gaekwod. That’s right, go and snivel elsewhere. End of aside.
The point is Srikanth was born to betray one Sivaji or another.
Back to the film. The first part of the film is a bit dreary, with Rajini doing “yes
Equally insane was Ilayaraja’s background score, literally blasting off hundreds of trumpets everytime Rajini goes on rampage (very Bond-eque, compare the track with Thunderball’s). But seriously, it gets your pulse racing and I wonder if Rajini heard the soundtrack before pummelling the bad guys. Such motivation.
Speaking of pummelling, here’s the WTF part. One fight scene ends up with lungi wearing Rajini and another lungi wearing bad guy in a fenced goat pen. Needless to say, a bunch of goats broke their bones (Sup Tulang yumm...) with Rajini and the bad guy falling on them. But then, the fight gets so intense that - and I don’t think this was scripted - Rajini grabbed one of the goats and starts to beat the shit out of the bad guy.
It was unbelievable, I had to rewind to see the spectacle again. No guess on what’s for dinner for the film crew that night.
Of course, accused of murder and rape, Mookayan is on the run, a fugitive, and this was the part where he switches his costume from Lungi and Singlet to pants and unbuttoned shirt. Unbuttoned.
I shouldn’t worry about it, but I did ponder about the reason costume switch, besides providing the costumer a second meal. And then! Holy Harrison Ford, it struck me the practicality of it all.
Now, here’s the scientific explanation. Obviously with lungi on, you can’t make long strides when running away from cops. Pants can enable you to take those lengthy strides when running away from long arms of the law. Besides, a lungi has broader per-square foot of target for police dogs to pounce on than a pair of pants.
As for the unbuttoned shirt. To quote Mr. T, I pity you fools. Imagine the same long arms of the law (does that make them a gorilla or orang-utan?), grabbing your singlet when you are on the run. But unbuttoned shirt! Not only you get to show your awesomely flat ab, but if the collar is grabbed by cop, you can let it go easily. A technique clearly borrowed from domestic lizards**.
All in all, it’s a thoroughly revisit-able film, but the downside to the film has to be the use of wrong singer for Rajini. TMS, by now, has voice thicker than Sivaji’s wigs and was totally unsuitable for Rajini. It’s like listening to Michael Jackson voiced by Elvis Presley.
As usual as with Rajini films, it’s his show. Oozing with infant version of his powerful charisma, he gets to flex his acting chops here. If only he had pursued that direction he’d be up there with Kamal as brilliant actors. Emoting his way to the climax, he showed raw energy and emotion that make us feel his pain. The best scene has to be the sad song when he visits his sister at the graveyard (Nandooruthu Nariyuruthu).
But of course, at that moment you feel like saying, “Like, dude, you were responsible for her dead?” You better not. He might grab anything he could get, and beat the crap out of you. Like a Barn Owl.
*Bhairavi, Dharma Yutham & Naan Sigappu Manithan. If I have missed others, please get them to register in Rajini’s Dead On-Screen Sisters Registry, not Rajini’s Betraying Brothers Registry or Rajini’s Betraying Landlords Registry.
**Come on, you know this. The lizards let go of the tail when is caught. And leaves the dead wiggling tail to horrify us.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Note: RetroReview will look at fun old films from totally contemporary sense. No disrespect to the filmmakers, just a mix of respect and tease.
Rajini has made a total of five films the great actor Sivaji Ganesan. The most recent, Padaiyappa is a bore, with Sivaji playing Rajini’s father and quickly shuffling off under the guise of onscreen death, though I have a feeling that he’d rather not be in that dreadful film.
Before that, both were in Padikadhavan, though it’s a Rajini show all the way. Earlier they have both appeared in Justice Gopinath, and all these three show both of them having blood relationship.
That’s not fun. That’s not half as fun as nAn vAzha vaipEn where they are not father/son or siblings. They are almost enemies. And they kick each other’s butt, and that was what made me write this review. Actually they do that in Viduthalai too, but that's too horrible a film to write....maybe another day.
Movie starts from Sivaji playing Ravi, a poor travels agent who wears suit, and highlight the fact that his big-mouthed sister was wheelchair bound and his younger brother looks suspiciously like a girl and even sounds like one (don’t scratch your bald spot, those days “boys” usually played by girls, and Sri Devi made a fortune out of that).
We also get to know that Sivaji was the last to be seen with a murdered rich man, Ramaraj. Along the way we get to know that Sivaji also has brain tumour, but not in a fashion that is usually dealt with in Tamizh films. The buildup to what’s worst gonna happen was, well, quite bizarre for me. Only the lame dialogue ruined
what could have been an awesome scene. The doctor was played by Poornam Visvanath by the way. In order to make it interesting, let me reconstruct that scene from Scorsese's angle.
Doc: You see the spot here (showing X-Ray of a very normal looking brain)
Doc: What’re’ye? Frickin’ blind.
Doc: What’s a mook?
Doc: This spot here? It says you got toomer.
Doc: Yeah, a toomer.
Doc: What’re’yer frickin’ deaf? A toomer. A brain toomer
Doc: Not yet. I am talking to you.
Doc: Ain’t nobody here. Yeah. You’re gonna die.
Doc: So do I, is that a coincidence or what, you dope.
Doc: How the heck do I know? Okay, you can do an operation (surgery).
Doc: Who said it’s a minor operation?
Doc: No, you stupid dope. It’s major. Here (drills
Doc: What’s that?
Doc: Not really. There might be some side effects.
Doc: Nonono, nothing bad like that. For a starter, you could have a stroke and get paralysed.
Doc: Or you could be a retard for the rest of your life.
Doc: Even if you do live, you could become blind.
Well, no he doesn't shoot himself. That’s what the doctor tells him in a bizarre, build-upy way that either he dies of the tumour, or, after surgery, live with those aweful predicament ie, paralysed, become blind or a retard.
Now then, the lazy cops swallows the trap, hook, line and sinker, and arrests
Aside: Few words about PV. I always find him creepy, there’s something more to him than meets my contact lensed eye. Look at how lusty he gets around Silk Smitha in Mundram Pirai. Remember, he was the one who got Rajini in trouble in the first place in Tillu Mullu. As a father he was rotten, and remember how he chased out Kamal in Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu, only to be united years later in jail in Mahanadhi? End of Aside.
So, the operation was successful, and the doctor celebrates it by having a fag at the no-smoking zone (really, not making this up).
He escapes through the hospital room bathroom window (yes, the cops put him in a room where the bathroom window is big enough for tubby
If you have seen this movie, you will know Rajini's name. You will know his character’s name, because he keeps saying it goddamn, I don’t know, 57 times? “My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”.
After a pickpocketing gig, we see Michael frolicking with a girl singing about sky is up there, and hell is somewhere down and we should be happy in the earth. He does few dance moves that later inspired K. Bagyaraj to pick up aerobics. Then, the unavoidable brush with
“My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”.
“My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”.
Thinking that Michael killed the rich man
“My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”.
Then, a gun turns up, and they sort things out and
Aside: Michael’s photographic memory is triggered by the complex technique of pretending that your fingers are binoculars. Also, “My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”. End of aside.
Probably he is not only a true but a good Chris Chen, Michael abandons the intend to betray Ravi and nails the actual murderer- Ramaraj’s brother, played by one of the most uncharismatic actor ever to grace the screen and yet get shitload of assignments, Major Sunderajan.
Upon identifying Sunderajan, the unflappable Michael immediately swung into action and said, “My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”. Oh well, he was to bring our Major (I think his name is Jeyaraj, I forgot, who cares) and hand it to
What follows is a series of shots of
Despite my ribbing, the film was pretty good the second half. Sivaji sleepwalks in this role (again case of feeding twigs to an elephant), and Rajini does his best to lend some credibility to sell Chris Chenity or whatever he was preaching.
Most importantly, it has beautiful songs by Ilayaraja. Thirutheeril Varum Silayoo, Enthan PonVanname, Ennodu Padunggal, and the abovementioned Agayam Mele Paathalam Kizhe are all radio favourites.
Watch it if it’s on TV, especially the brain tumour scene. Also…
“My name is Michael de Souza. I am a true Chris Chen”
In the pix: Rajinikanth (the original Ajith) as whatsisname, Sivaji Ganesan (the original Rajini AND Kamal) and what looks like....oh my god...an apparitions..arrrrrrr.....
Monday, September 05, 2011
In a defining moment before the interval of Venkat Prabhu directed Mankatha, Ajith glowers at us audience and does something that would make Spielberg proud during his Jaws days. I jumped in my seat, never thinking that this actor that I once dismissed as pretty boy would move me, literally.
It has been a long journey for him appearing as, yes, a pretty boy with buggy eyes in Amaravathi, which I must have watched and dismissed as another pallid romance movie, for actor Ajith Kumar, now appearing in his fiftieth film, Mankatha, an event which was visibly celebrated during the title sequence.
Funny though, in the earlier days, actors would wait until their 100th films before celebrating it. Times are much slower, prolific actors are not heroes or leading stars, they are usually comedians. The generation X actors had to settle for lesser films per year, sometimes per two years, and mull about their box office charm before deciding their next venture.
Ajith is no different. More often than not, he was not sure what kind of actor he is going to become. While others opted to become Rajini’s chair dusters or six-packed bipedal, Ajith often just relied on the directors to pull him to this direction and that, and occasionally making personal statements on things affecting his career (and intertwined personal) life.
His weakness has always been his voice, that childish drawl that often killed many important dialogues, if at all those existed in his films. Heck, in his first film he was dubbed by another artist. Subsequently, it was when he is quieter, like the mute character in Valee, or films where he has minimal dialogue like Billa or Aasal (yeah, I liked this film, sue me), where he was effective. But all that is gone now.
Lifelong smoking has put gravel in his voice, and it was most effective in Mankatha. In this film, he is not a lover boy, not a mute desperado, neither is he a stylish anti hero. He is a tubby, greasy, smoking, boozing, cheating swindling, devious suspended cop who is only eyeing after money. To quote George Thorogood, he was bad to the bone.
In the middle of the film, he goes into a long monologue on plotting certain “deaths” - a one man act that not many of his generation actors can pull off - and he snaps at you. If it was in 3D, it would have given me a stroke. It was that effective. The evilness in him looked real. Ajith the actor has finally found his calling.
He, in my opinion, is going to fulfil the need for more three dimensional, shady characters played by leading stars that has been lacking in the industry. Thanks to Venkat Prabhu, the director who also wrote this film, and what appears to be early success of this film, in future we can see Ajith fulfilling that need.
The film itself is a neatly packaged retelling of chaos. Or heist went wrong and the chaos ensued. Chaos first orchestrated by Ajith’s Vinayak character, and what ensues when he lost control of it. It is not a brilliant script, but it warranted enough scenes to keep us, as the cliché goes, edge of the seat. Or in my case, corner of my seat as I was seated at extreme right (not bad crowd at a sleepy neighbourhood cinema).
Besides setbacks like poor comedy from Premgi, unnecessary songs and dances, too many shootouts (who’s shooting at whom is a secret only Venkat Prabhu knows), choppy fight scenes and a poor leading actress who gives tough competition to the timber industry, the film is as engaging as the recent KO that I enjoyed immensely.
Only difference is, you find yourself rooting for a sleazebag. You find yourself biting your nails figuring out what the unkempt, gray haired, cigarette chomping slob is up to next. Yes, the same scumbag played by Ajith. It was a brave effort, to push the gear, nay as the pilots say, “balls to the wall”, attempt in acting and yet still not showing the limitation he already had.
Other cast members gave a considerably wonderful input, especially Arjun, who knew that we are going to see him as the same, good, disciplined heroic cop that he played hundreds of time. That what made the twist in the climax more surprising and entertaining.
Without Ajith, this will be another heist movie. Good movie, but not as entertaining thanks to Ajith’s performance. So, Ajith, you don’t want to be the next Superstar. That chair is still warmed by the 60 year old grandpa’s bum. You don’t want to be the next Kamal. Nobody can. You just be who you are as we saw in this film, a character actor in a leading role, and to quote one of Rajini’s famous lines, be in your own “Tani Vazhi”.
Kudos to Venkat Prabhu in bringing out the best in Ajith. I dismissed the Billa prequel idea whereby the second Ajith was the best in the first Billa. But after seeing this, I really look forward to the badass dude’s formative years in the prequel. Just don’t give me the near heartattack like you did here, dude.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Lately the media has been buzzing on how the western brands especially the luxury items have been invading the Asian market and how it has been embraced. It’s true in most cases, but not altogether the reality in
One such report quoted McKinsey and Co noting that spending on luxury goods by Chinese consumers is predicted to rise by 18 per cent a year to about US$27bn by 2015 – surpassing even
However, most excitement seemed to be centred on east Asia, hardly mentioned India which shocked Apple when it failed to make it to the list of top 20 companies in India. The maker of iconic iPhone and iPad, it seems, is not the apple of the Indian’s eyes.
The research that was conducted by research consultancy firm GlobeScan for TLG's Index of Thought Leaders 2011 says, "
Leading the list are indeed home-grown brands like Tata and Infosys technologies. Aside from Apple, other major Western brands failed to make the cut of
Microsoft, which was ranked number six in both the
In another survey earlier this year by Trust Research Advisory, a research and communications organisation, again finds name like Tata, Reliance, Maruti, LIC, Airtel, State Bank of India, Bajaj, Hero Honda, ICIC Group listed among the top 20 most trusted brand in
The comprehensive brand study featured 16,000 brands with over 100,000 touch points across nine cities.
A less informal survey, conducted by Indian online magazine, Afaqs, on “buzziest” brand saw Tata making an appearance again, alongside, to remind us that this is a cricket mad nation, Indian Premier League.
This will not be a revelation if one were to take history into account, whereby brand
It boasted the word’s first university in Takshashila in 700 BC, was far ahead of others in medicine and surgery 2,500 years ago, led the world in astronomy and mathematics, taught the world how to navigate, and led the textile industry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This was before the British company came and “carpet-bombed Brand
Cultural brand burst
But all was not lost post-independence as it started to export culture and “spirituality” to the world. The world of pop-culture was awakened by the pop-rock band Beatle’s association with Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, which helped trigger the entire hippy culture in the 1960s.
Yoga, which was basically a mix of turn of the century Indian gymnastic exercise and breathing technique, swept throughout the west and is still sweeping (it’s not as ancient as it is reputed to be). No matter which gwailo or mademoiselle is teaching it, it will forever be associated with
One of the most auspicious brands that have made its mark in the global arena is certainly its film industry. Brand Bollywood, a concoction of the word
Once a much maligned industry that’s associated with heroes and heroines making musical around trees in the park, are now accepted as colourful celluloid entertainment.
For instance, audiences in US and
Its music composer, A.R Rahman, dubbed as Mozart of Asia (really) won two Oscars for a single film two years ago, and was widely nominated for numerous
Bollywood talents, including the “Mozart of Asia” can now been seen also working in
Historically, the Bollywood films are already accepted and widely marketed elsewhere.
Ditto the war-torn
One of the non-Indian company that’s riding on the success of Brand Bollywood is Sony Music Entertainment which recently announced that its revenues from India to grow to US$50 million in the next three years vowing to continue to grow its presence in the Hindi film music segment with investments of about US$15 million this year.
The music group generates about $20 million in revenues from the Indian market. alone
A large chunk of Sony’s business comes from the Bollywood music segment, where it has a 20% market share and reportedly
In fact, it’s the same Bollywood that produced many willing brand ambassadors with veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan plugging no less than 60 brands.
The younger group joined in with acclaimed actor Amir Khan endorsing Indian tourism and an actress, a ex-Miss World, was chosen to hawk watchmaker Longines, cosmetics leader L’Oreal, and India’s own jewellery maker, Nakshatra.
Owners differ, Brand stays
The Indian identity is so strong with the brand that even when takeovers were mounted, many multinational corporations were forced to retain the Indian brands to satisfy the locals.
Take for instance, Thums Up, which was the carbonated drink of choice for Indians for decades, not by choice as the Government back then closed the door to Coca Cola.
When the door was open later, Coca Cola barged in, grabbed Thums Up by its collar and had it in its pocket immediately (they bought it). But Thums Up was holding up a huge market share, cramping space for Coke’s arch rival, Pepsi. Hence the decision to let the brand stay rather than showing thumbs down.
Similarly, Hindustan Unilever, which is 52% owned by Anglo-Dutch company Unilever, faced identical problem when it acquired Hamam, one of the oldest Indian beauty soap brands. It was owned by Tata Oil Mills Company (TOMCO), which HUL took over in 1993.
HUL tread to repackage and modify the brand but they found out that by changing the composition of the soap they were loosing the loyal customers, so HUL have gone back to old composition and is using ‘trust’ and ‘quality’ as this brand’s salient points in marketing it.
In fact, HUL should be credited for the rise of another home brand, Lakme, which was drowning, recording losses after losses. HUL took over the brand in 1998, and today Lakme is a household name in cosmetics in
Moving out of
No Indian story would be complete without acknowledging Tata Group’s towering brand value over its peers and competitors.
The companies under the group are itself formidable brands such as Tata Steel (including Tata Steel Europe), Tata Motors (including Jaguar and Land Rover), Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Technologies, Tata Tea (including Tetley), Tata Chemicals, Titan Industries, Tata Power, Tata Communications, Tata Sons, Tata Teleservices and the Taj Hotels.
Lastly, the moolah factor. Indians may be becoming more brand conscious, tech savvy and still gawking at musicals in the park; the price factor still plays a big part when it comes to the consumers.
According to a study by Global Retail Index end of 2010, after economic slowdown, 38 per cent Indian shoppers have become more conscious about the price than brand. The poll interviewed 19,000 shoppers, who are also Internet users, across 17 global markets to study in-store and online shopping behaviour.
The study noted while 39 per cent
Values that they would associate with brands at home. What’s Bud Light, when Kingfisher offers premium beers and cheap flight? What’s Marlboro when Gold Flake has been smoking Indian lungs for ages? Ignore Vodafone’s advertisement, when Airtel which not only provide great services, its advertisement also features A.R. Rahman’s music.
And speaking of whom, who needs Mozart when