Thursday, April 28, 2011

KO: Small review

I have come to a conclusion as far as KO’s director is concerned. I think KV. Anand hates us audience.

You see after crafting a wonderful script, creating memorable characters, and perhaps even storyboarded the tight action sequences, he remembered that we would be watching, and sadistically decided to place songs at strategic places enough to get us reeling.

The man for the job, Harris Jeyaraj took it as labour of love, and armed with recyle and sampling machine, he carpetbombed the entire film gleefully with the heard before tunes, and lazy-ass background score equivalent to audio shit.

But we should forgive KV. Anand, besides the musical turd, he gave one helluva political thriller. Superb performance from the cast, especially Jeeva and Ajmal, the film moves from one event to another, and reminding us the event before and why we should have thought of it as unnecessary scene, but we didn’t because it was awesome, and yet the scenes are explained in the nicely scripted twist.

The truth is, its nice to see a protagonist in form of a photo-journalist. When was the last time we saw one? Kamal in Tik Tik Tik? In the era of social media networking, whe world of physical newspaper seemed like an odd choice to place a young protagonist, but it was perhaps what makes the film work – the old school thriller that is purely worked around newspaper headlines.

Kudos to KV Anand for such a gorgeous piece of cinema. Drop Harris next time, Anand. Or we will hate you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yuvan’s Concert and The Evolution of Tamil Film Songs On Stage

In the middle of his first concert, Tamil film music composer Yuvan Shankar Raja hung from a helicopter via cable as he descends stylishly down the stage. Basically a schtick pop singers or rock bands worldwide, (especially Americans)use to enhance their concerts. Except, Yuvan is a movie composer, no different from John Williams or Danny Elfman or T. Rajender. It was something new in any Tamizh film related concerts, though similar scene was enacted in a Kamal movie only to have the cable snap so that Kamal can quickly stop his really bad song and emote melodiously*.

Yuvan is too ordinary looking to be a poster material, too short to be hunk material, too bland to be stageshow material, and basically too one-note to be a rockstar material vocally. He doesn’t have Michael Jackson’s move, nor does he possess Bono’s energy, Jagger’s swagger or even Freddie Mercury’s moustache. And yet, thousands turned up to his concert, a mix of young and old, from various background, and a guy who kept dancing with his ass turned towards camera.

But I was amazed to see rockstar level of adoration amongst his fans. The show itself was staged to elucidate such adulation, with guests praising showers on the young composer, and some other pop/rockstar gimmicks. And trouble with old fart grouch like me, I don’t know 70% of the songs delivered, so it cut my fun factor short. Not to mention, everyone on stage has to yell the compulsory, “Come on, CHENNAIII” every two minutes.

What again made me watch with glee is how much stage shows featuring Tamizh film songs has evolved. Back in the 80s, I have seen concerts by veteran composer Ilayaraja or veterans of those day, K.V Mahadevan and M.S. Viswanathan, all usually decked not in leather jacket and tight pants, but formal shirt and veshti (or Dhoti, or some white cloth wrapped around waist downwards, take your pick). It’s hard to think of them arriving by hanging from a helicopter. Well for one, the veshti might get entangled with the blades and create a musical disaster of some sort.

Anyway, these gentleman usually hardly speak, often when prodded by the emcee and the answers would be filled with humility, or in Ilayaraja’s case, very matter-of-fact answers that sometimes misread as being big headed. Guys, he was just being himself. But that would be all. Including many other small time composers who come over to Malaysia or Singapore, where we get the TV broadcast from, give the audience good music, then pack up and take a booze laden flight back home.

Then came A.R.Rahman making sure that his concert is every bit as polished as his audio output themselves, ruined only by the then new school singers like Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan talking to the audience. A.R Rahman himself took to dressing up non-traditionally, usually smart casual, but remained mostly behind his synthesiser emerging only when he is singing and when he is not fussy with his damned keyboard.

Ilayaraja pretty much stayed away from staging shows at that time, giving way to lesser beings like Deva or S.A. Raj Kumar to strut their stuff on the stage where sometimes you get up to 270 people on it, with only 10 being musicians and singers. It was a messy affair, with musicians missing the queue, singers peering so tightly at the lyrics book in front of them and still miss the words.

The last time I went for a concert was to see and listen to my beloved S.P Balasubramaniam and K.J. Jesudass when I was in Singapore. If the third rate accompanying troupe was annoying enough, K.J Jesudass was busy screwing up the lyrics and forgetting the tune, leaving SPB to cover him up as if the song was not ruined already. It was a terrible show and that was the last straw for me. I’d rather watch a couple of snails making out than another Tamizh film song concert.

Respect for A.R. Rahman who is now touring the world around with his concerts, when not making music for Hindi, Tamizh and Hollywood films, aside I felt the whole film music concert will be brought one step further having seen Yuvan’s concert. Sure, he looked silly in Michael Jackson outfit, he knows only about three and a half dance steps, and often you have to seek him out when towering celebs share the stage with him (his port where he plays his synthesiser was on a heightened platform so you know the show is still about him), but he made lots of effort to be a performer, rather than a veshti wearing composer standing around looking nervous that the tabla feller might miss couple of beats or the flute guy picked up the wrong stick.

Also, never mind the fact that the celebs who talked about him might make you think that when he is not composing music, Yuvan was helping out at the leper colony (“he’s a great man”), there’s something fresh about the concert, even if I didn’t know most of the songs. I'd love to see Yuvan leading the younger composers to give lots of thought behind their shows and give high quality productions on stage. Though I wish he'd never wear the Michael Jackson outfit. Reminded me of MJ’s Bubbles.

*Kalaignan. Used to love Edakku Mudakkaana Sarakku. Now, unlistenable.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

RIP Sujatha: A Mother For All

Argue as you may till the cows come home on how the recently departed actress Sujatha was much better actress than the stereotyped mother roles she has been doing the last three decades. Truth is, we will end up remembering her most of the times as mothers to the likes of Rajini, Prabhu and other leading stars who are themselves in their twilight of their careers now.

These stars were icons for us generation X-ers, and their on-screen mother was like ours, and Sujatha was one of the most comforting faces to look at on big and small screen. It doesn’t matter that she was terribly under-utilised because till today there is no place for the Meryl Streeps and Cate Blanchettes in Tamil film industry. You are either Marylin Monroe or mama Huxtable and after almost a decade of playing leading ladies to the leading men, she took on the latter roles and give her all to it.

Of all “sons” she had relationship with, the weirdest must be the recurring non-relationship with Rajini. She played his mother in Maaveran, Kodi Parakkuthu Uzhaippali and Baba, where as a baby he was never destined to be with his mother till maybe latter part of his adult life. Maybe.

In Maaveeran, she plays the typical split-from-son mother, a plotline beaten to death in Hindi film back in the 70s that hung over throughout the 80s. She goes amnesiac, sort of, until she is reunited with her husband and ultimately, her son. Only time we see mother and son together is towards the climax when Rajini is not busy beating up the bad guys.

The same plot reappears in the Kodi Parakkuthu, and this time she goes mute. Brushes with the unrecognized son Rajini aside, the only time the two spend time together is perhaps towards the end when Rajini is not beating up the bad guys.

As whittle down from director Rajasekhar, to Bharathiraja, we find ourselves watching P. Vasu’s Rajini film, Uzhaippali a silly, but enjoyable film, where again, Sujatha plays mother with amnesia, driven away from son Rajini, until both finally recognise each other and have quality time as mother and son, that too towards the end when Rajini is not beating up the bad guys.

Zoom forward a decade and we find ourselves in Rajini’s own scripted film Baba. This time, Sujatha is not amnesiac or mute, but told by many swamijis who spent too much time staring at the snow peaks of Himalaya that that is not her son. A reincarnation of some spiritual guru it seems. So, no son and mother quality time at all in this film where she was even killed off while Rajini was busy beating up the bad guys.

The root of this troubled “relationship” must have taken place decades earlier when she was the main star of K. Balachander’s Avargal, where Rajini played her verbally sadistic husband. It was not a relationship meant to happen, and it didn’t even went well when she played his mother.

But that is a terrible long digression on this piece where we acknowledge that she was like our own on-screen mother. We don’t like it when the sons hurt her feeling, even if it was by someone Innocent as played by Prabhu, or by two-fisted horse-riding gravity defying stuntmen like the ones Rajini played. No, don’t you hurt her feelings. She’s your mom, get her back, Rajini, and for god’s sake, look for a bride and get married, Prabhu, she won’t be around forever. And she’s not now.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Hub Awards 2010 – Tamil Film Music

Best Female Playback Singgar

Here we are once again, with a handful nominations full of beautiful women who contributed to the well-being of Tibetans. Who am I kidding, I have here names of singers, most of whom I have not heard about singing films I have not seen

Here we go, first we have Anwesha who invested her vocal in Mandhira Punnagai, a film that has nothing to do with Sathyaraj.

Then we have Gurupriya who was used for the film Kanden, which nyaan kanddutulla.

Finally a singer from a film which I have seen and almost wept not because its terribly sad, but you don’t see much of them these days. And it’s Hamsika for Angadi Theru.

Winner: Anwesha


Best Debut Male Singer

It’s no surprise that I don’t know any of the nominees since they are newcomers. But then this is an important moment for them. This is their first step, the giant step into the industry and then get invited to judge kid shows.

Here are the nominees, for Enggeyum Kaadhal, Aalap Raju. Why alap? His siblings name are Sanggathi Rani, or Birkha Bairavan or what?

That followed by Ajeesh for Goa, Alphones for Vinnai Tandi Varuvayo (VTV), Kirthi Sagahtya for Madhira Punnagai, Raman Mahadevan for that film that stole the title from NT’s classic comedy, Suresh Iyer for Angadi Theru and Yateeshwar Karthikraja for Nandhalalalala….

Whoever you guys are, all the best and stand in line behind more new singers…

Winner: Alphones


Best Song Picturisation/Choreography

This is certainly a weird award, but considering the emphasis directors put in making sure, and knowing well, that their movies suck, at least the audience gets to take a gander at the heroines’ cleavages.

Leading the pack is Arima Arima from Endhiran, a sequence which Shankar must have spent the entire GDP of Singapore on. Needless to say, Rajini looked awesome in it, overshadowing his heroine, the brilliant set, and those extremely fake looking silicon lions (cost US$3.99).

Then comes En kadhal solla from Paiya, and Hosana from Vinnai Taandi Varuvayoo which again showcased Goutham Menon’s fixation over the crucifixion pose the heroes often project when they are in lauv.

This followed by Iragai pole (Nan Mahan Alla) and Kilimanjaro, again from Endhiran where Aishwarya Rai showed what would happen if the Loony Toons' Road Runner dances.

More songs from Vinnai Taandi Varuvaya with Mannipaya and Omana Penne, and Kamal gets to showcase his reverse singing talent in the nominated Neela Vaanam song from ManMadhan Ambu. Is there anything this man cannot do? Oh, bungee-jumping into a live volcano? Haha, wait did he hear that?

Last two song in the list is Pookal Pookum (Madarasapattinam) and Usure Poguthey ( Ravanan) the latter in which the heroine went through the extreme torture of looking beautiful all the time.

Winner: Neela Vaanam


Best Lyricist

Best lyricist nomination names are interesting because of the names themselves.

First on is Arivumathi. Look at that name. Which parents would name a child two names that means the same thing. It’s like naming your kid, Sooru Saatham or something. This definitely will go down in the history as the most modest name in this side of Batman Villains.

Then we have Chandru, who’s usually played by Navarasa Nayagan Karthik, and Madhan Karkywho is, you guys know this very well, son of one of the most brilliant poets/lyricists/writers Kannadhasan.

The list is followed by Mu Mehta, a veteran lyricist who have been writing since the colonial times, and rubbed shoulders, palm and ears with Bharathidhasan, and Na. Muthukumar, who would have gotten my vote for being brilliant, creative and a fellow balding victim.

Other names in Thamarai, again another brilliant writer, Thiagarajan Kumaraja and Yugabharathi. Finally this list is not complete without one name that should be in any nominations lists ever, like Best Praisefest Contendor, the one and only Jimpalakkadi Jimba…wait, let me get the reading glass…oh yea, it’s Vairamuthu.

Winner: Vairamuthu


Best Background Score

It’s increasingly interesting to note that a nod has been given to the Background score direction, considering some Hubbers here spent most of their waking hours talking about how they didn’t even realise that there was none in Nadunisi Naygal.

Leading the list is none other than A.R.Rahman who actually should be banned from any awards, and just mail him the trophies on regular basis bar the public holidays.

Next to him is his nephew G.V.Prakash who will forever known as the boy who sang cikku bukku cikku bukku opening. Next on is the both underrated and overrated Vidhyasagar, followed by the dude who always sings like he spent two hours in LA Airport and acquired the accent, Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Last but not least, of course, the composer better known for singing lots of Ramarajan songs,Ilaiyaraja.

Winner: Ilayaraja


Best Playback Singer - Female

Here we go again, a list of mostly unknown folk whom I suspect are all ladies.

Or so I think, if I were to dismiss the lead nominee Andrea who seemed to be channelling Louis Armstong a lot. Followed by today's* Harini and highly overrated Shreya Ghosal, and Sudha Raghunathan who is someone, I suspect, who sings.

Then, we have Chinmayi whose chicken like clucking ability induced tons of offers from Cartoon Network, followed by Madhushree who, though she didn’t do the clucking thing, nevertheless deserves offers from Cartoon Network for reasons known by no one else but me because I don’t have a frickin clue what to write about her.

Then, you have honey voiced Sadhana Sargam, bee-wax voiced Saindhavi and Brazillian Bee sting voiced Suchitra.

*lame Malaysian joke, don't bother.

Winner: Shreya Ghosal


Best Playback Singer - Male

It’s interesting that this year there are nominees who are composers themselves and also pairs of daddies and sons that shows nepotism rules and you’d rather do it yourself than the fee seeking singing chipmunks.

Among the nominees is Ilayaraja, whom previously I introduced as frequent playback singer for a certain milkman, who is also known for being responsible for another nominee Yuvan Shankar Rajawho has fierce “no entry” sign in his studio especially two rottweilers that specialises in ripping apart other singers throat.

Another daddy on the list is K.J Yesudass who occasionally descents from wherever he is to remind the us that he is the original, not Vijay Yesudass, the other nominee.

I am also given these names Roopkumar Rathod, Vijay Prakash, Haricharan, whom I have no idea who they are, which I suspect was plucked out of certain rear end to break the votes.

Also in the list is A.R.Rahman, who joined IR and MSV as composers who also sang for Rajini and yet none of them sound like Rajini at all. Unlike Karthik, another nominee in fact.

Last but not least is god himself. *lightening and thunder effect please* The defender of great singing, the purveyor of awesome voice talent, the symbol of cheerful obesity, the golden voiced, the giant bellied, the Man, the Lord, the one and the only ....
S.P.BALASUBRAMANIAM !!! Bow! Bow to the lord all thee minions!

Winner: Karthik


Album of the Year

We have lots of nomination for album of the year this year owing to lazy hubbers who has been slacking in their work listening to worthless music and reading stupid award announcements. You have been warned.

Anyway leading the list. Wait, can I say something other than “leading the list”, it’s grating. Okay, ending the list is Ayirattil Oruvan/Madhrasapattinam /Va.

Ending further in the list is Angadi Theru, Mandhira Punnagai / Magizhchi
Mundhinam Paarthene/Moscovin Kauvery

The slashes are actually in the list, I am not making it up. I don’t know what it means either, split votes? Leaning over each other? Shoulder to cry on? I’m going bonkers with one too many announcements?

Okay, deep in the pit are titles like Nandhalala, Paiya and Tenmerku Paruva Katru, the latter title obviously trying to cash on ARR’s fame. Shame on you, you should try to cash on IR’s fame.

Of course, it’s inevitable that ARR is here, with three of his movies nominated, namely Endhiran, Raavanan, Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya all of which contained two of the worst actresses since Kamala Kamesh and Saritha’s sister combined. It’s time you take that break, Rahman.

Winner: Vinnai Taandi Varuvaya


Song of the year - 2010

I don’t listen to new songs all that much except when A.R Rahman decides to take a break and composes Tamizh songs. But more on him later.

Songs that I may have heard about but don’t give not only two hoots, but three horns, four snorts, are En kathal solla (Paiya), Iragai pole (NMA), Onnukonna (Nandhalala),Pookal pookkum (Madharasapattinam), Un perai sollum (Angadi Theru). Though I have seen three of the films, I can’t remember the songs at all, that’s how awesome they are.

Usure poguthey from Raavanan goes on to show that as great as Vairamuthu was, sometimes he goes batshit insane when writes that the protagonist’s life leaves him when the heroin twists (twitch?) her lips. For the same heroine, years ago, he had the protagonist declare that he is willing to drink her sweat. Excuse me one nimits for five nimits....

...ah...feeling better...anyway, that song was composed by Rahman as he did for the film Vinnai Taandi Varuvaya where two songs made it here, Aaromale a bluesy, folksy, shout from the jungle song and Mannippaya which I conveniently forgot.

Next on, ARR not only composed, but also sang for Rajini, a number titled Irumbile (Endhiran)where on Rajini does lots of Aerobics for the geriatrics. But that’s not A.R Rahman’s fault, unless you want to blame him for the next nominated song, Puthiya manitha (Endhiran), where he made S.P. Bala sound like mating hippos. Who am I kidding I love both songs.

Winner: Irumbile


Best Music Director

NOV, do we still have awards left to give to A.R Rahman? Oh, you’ve sent for a container. Okay, I’ll read the nomination list anyway.

Apart from the obvious winner, duh, is his nephew again, one Mr. G.V Prakash who kept giving one lame composition after another after showing potential in Veyyil. When was that? 25 years ago?

Then there are names that has escaped me time and time again and are now on a man-made raft in the sea of my amnesia attempting to board my ship of selected memory, namely Kannan (Tamil Padam), N.R.Rahanthan (Thenmerku Paruvakaatru) and Thaman.

Then you have the usual nominee Vidhyasagar...*yawn*... and, again, one of thousand Vijays, who worked for Kanden Seethaiyai.

If I began with uncle and nephew, I shall end the list with dad and son, Ilayaraja who can still rock the boat when he’s not tinkering with the boring synthesiser stuff and junior, Yuvan Shankar Raja, who’d rather strangle himself with guitar string than avoid tinkering with the boring synthesiser stuff.

Who wins this category? If “obvious answer” is not your answer, I suggest you leave the Hub and become member of “Hey, I’ve just discovered world wide web” forum.

Winner: A.R. Rahman

The Hub Awards 2010: Sports

I participate in an online forum called The Hub, populated mostly by Tamizh speaking members from all around the world. You can learn more about it here.

Anyway, every year they nominate films and individuals for awards, not sure they are given away personally, but hey it’s awards. This time I had the honour of making announcements through posts and the best part, in my own style, and here they are in case they get lost in the cyberworld. Note that I am being especially nasty towards the popular one, so don’t get offended. Special Thanks to my buddy NOV (Velan) who is one of the moderators there who was masochistic enough to give me this opportunity.

Sports Category

Best International Football Team.

Yes, I will be your presenter today. Here we go:

I think it goes without saying that Argentina has been the best for many years if not for severe suicidal bombings by Brazil fans in the respective embassies.

Anyway, joining Maradona’s team this year in the nomination list would be “endearing” Spain, “cybernetics” Germany, “it’s not hand of god dammit” England, “neither here or there”Nedherlands, “Pickled” Uruguay, “Folksy” Gana and “we are not Uruguay's evil twin sister”Paraguay. Brazil gets kicked out for technical reason. Okay, that was a joke. They are in. Defuse that bomb. Please.

Winner: Spain


Bowler of the year

Mods (Moderators) wanted me to announce this category despite the fact that the only thing I know about cricket is that it makes noise by rubbing its hind leg. Anyway, when mods tell you to jump, you shouldn’t ask, “who’s coming for tea”

The nominees are Dale Steyn, Graham Swann and Harbhajan Singh who was last seen reading news in our national TV station. No?

Alright, then we have James Anderson (Sam's evil brother), Morne Morkel, R Ashwin. Hey, my heavy metal buddy….what’s he doing here. Add to the list, you have Ryan Harris, Shakib Al Hasan,Steve Finn and Zaheer Khan who’s either sibling to Salman, Amir or Shah Rukh Khan. There, I just did a religious stereotyping crack. Sue me.

Winner: Dale Steyn


Footballer of The Year

What exactly is the criteria for this award is not exactly known. According to a mysterious source, the main criterion includes looking good in shorts, but she may be speculating

Since sport is boring for me, I shall not talk much. Leading the list is Xavi Hernandez , followed byAndres Iniesta, Iker Casillas, Wesley Sneidjer and Lionel Messi.

Then you have Diego Forlan, Thomas Mueller, David Villa, Miroslav Klose,
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

That’s about it I guess. Did I mention Lionel Messi? I did huh? Sharp aren’t you?

Winner: Messi


Batsman Of the Year

If you have just the best Batsmen of all time, I think the result for this poll is easy, it’s Michael Keaton dammit!!

Oh wait, right. It’s that damned cricket again, you folks treat it like religion don’t you?

So, big on this list is Sachin Tendulkar who might as well start a religion called Sachinologist or Tendulkarian, so many eager members here.

Then we have names Virendar Sehwag, Hashim Amla and Thilan Samaraweera. Who are these people, why they are in this list, and what is their significance in this existence called The Hub is a mystery currently being processed by the ministry of propaganda at the bunker. I don’t know what I am talking about but you will get the idea if you go immediately to your pharmacist.

Next on we have Virat “the chicken” Kohli, Jonathan “the deep” Trott, and Ian “Idea Mani” Bell.

The last three names include JH Kallis, AB de Villiers, VVS Laxman, those initials owing to extremely lazy parents.

Winner: Sachin


Best Football Team - Premier League

Somehow the Premier League has captured the hearts and minds of everyone in this world except the US, which is enamoured by a game where some guys carry a ball around, with their own pair protected considering they are wearing something that’s designed to ram a goddam tank.

So, here we have who’s who of football world. First in the list, Manchester United, which club’s fans think that by becoming one they sit on the right side of god when actually they are more annoying than those damned noisy pigeons that sit by your window sill in the weekend morning.

Of course, you have Chelsea which I am fond of because the literary James Bond lives there. AndArsenal, the poor blokes always get the butt end of the jokes, if you know what I mean.

Then, there’s Liverpool which I am not allowed to make a crack about because I’d like to sleep on the bed, thank you dear.

My beloved Tottenham Hotspur makes it to the list because of my one frickin’ vote, thank you mods. Next you have clubs that earn living by gambling pools, like Blackpool, selling hams, likeFulham, and selling sundries like Sunderland. God bless you guys if you are not relegated soon.

Last but not the least you have Manchester City forever hidden by the gigantic winds broke by Man United, and Everton which unfortunately is so insignificant I don’t know what crack to make of this club, except that it reminds me of Oliver Twist during the porridge scene.

Winner: Manchester United


Best Cricket Team

With all the excitement going on with the world cup it is without doubt this award would be of a great concern to many Malaysians.

Haha, who am I kidding. Malaysians know cricket like Americans know humility. If cricket match were the only thing that can help disputes among the participating countries instead of guns and bombs, then the entire world might as well switch off everything, announce the end of global warming, curl and die. It’s that intense.

First, we have the usual suspects of the cricket world, like India, England South Africa and Pakistan.

Then we have the unusual suspects of the cricket world on the account that I don’t have much to talk about, like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, completing the South Asian Category.

Next on are the lands of barbie and bad English accent, Australian, New Zealand and West Indies.

Whoever wins and gets the Hubs attention will spend lots of sleepless nights wondering that the hellSoftsword is and why a forum member would have enough low self esteem to call itself Plum.

Winner: Duh….India