Friday, November 23, 2012

Chronicles of Nevin: Rise of the crawler

Nevin making earnest promise to be nice to the bolster.

Continuing occasional documenting of Nevin Shankaran Kumar’s passage of time, or how he abuses his Accha (dad) and Amma (mom).

Well, here’s a great news about Nevin (to long suffering Accha and Amma), the drool phase is sort of over (re: previous instalment on this series). That’s about the only good news. The thing is, Nevin can now sit on his ass on his own without tumbling over like an empty whiskey bottle next to a drunk.

And he has started crawling! Aaaarrrrgh! You can control a house pet, including your alcoholic uncle, but one thing you can never be fully in charge of is a crawling baby (and the terrifying sequel, The Walking Baby [unrated]).

One moment he’d be down there at your feet where you are blocking him from something (the lower rack of your bookcase for example) and you scratch your bum, distracted slightly, and voila! He’s halfway to the kitchen to wreak havoc there.

Nine month’s old last week, Nevin is now increasingly showing the traits of an animal in survival mode – bite anything that you can grab on with your hands. There’d be bits stuff on the floor, but his rule is, if you can’t grab it with your hands, you don’t put it in your mouth.

You see, one of our rooms in the apartment has faulty parquet flooring, you know, those wooden bars held together. One day, again I was distracted by something, maybe hunger while waiting for wife to have the meal first, there he was, found a loose parquet wooden bar and looking at it lustily like we would to a Hershey chocolate bar. Luckily, dad was in time to remove it from his hand, and he revealed another in the other hand!

Yes, that damned teething again. The cannibalistic gnawing mentioned previously has not stopped. Unposted criminal records showed that he had once attempted to gnaw on Amma’s leg, her shoulder, and Accha’s ear, in particular displaying his insatiable greed for the earlobes. Once sitting down with him on the floor, and distracted for a moment, as usual, I suddenly felt something damp on my goddam heel!!! You know what that is.

Standing him up on my lap would be the biggest mistake I would ever commit: he’d immediately reach for the last few strands of hair on my head and try to lead them to freedom! And I’d do it again and again. Yes, when you are a father to an infant, your IQ goes right down the drain and into the sewerage and join many other dad’s runaway IQs.

Speaking of which, in the name of grooming him to become a macho man, I’d engage him in a fight. Yes, a real fight, only we do it like they do in cinema, not really hitting each other. Mano-o-baby. I’d grab hold of him (on the floor), and rabbit-punch his bum (fully protected by disposable napkin) and emit the fight sounds they use back in the 80s in Tamizh and Hindi films.

Aside: There are differences in those sounds. For example, in the 80sTamizh films, if the guy is blocking or just smacking, the sound would be “tub”, “tub” and full-on ass-kicking, “toobuhait!”, a departure from pre-80s “dishyum!”  as Tamizh films were embracing Jackie Fu at that time. For Hindi effect, I use the full-throated male-voiced “Bishyumbhhh”. No, seriously, checkout the Hindi films of that time. End of aside.

Of course, with my vigorous fake punch-throwing, blocking and voice-overs, he’d just try to crawl his way out as if nothing is happening. And I am the one who gets tired. Why can’t he accept this as serious sport, jeez man!

As for feeding, he’s started eating rice cereals with chicken bits or anchovies. Occasionally he gets yummy chocolate rusks, which he really loves, as does his chin and nose. Meal or milk is never an issue with him, unless its ads time on TV.

Yes, you moms and dads know this. They just get hypnotised when the ads are on. He’d be as interested as a cow over medium rare steak when other shows are going on, but when the advertisements are on, he’s hooked. I even tried to take advantage of this situation, the ads segment would be on, and I’d go:

Me: Nevin will stay put for the next twenty minutes while Acha and Amma finally have our dinner.
Me: Correction, Nevin will stay put for the next half an hour because Acha might go for second helping.

Yes! Total hypnosis. When the ad ends and the regular programs begin, he’d be at that room attempting to gnaw the loose parquet piece. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Chef Jacob – Cook-in-peace.

What a devastating day yesterday was. I was at home, on medical leave due to excessive eating of spicy chicken Varuval that I cooked on Sunday that literally backfired in the early morning, when I was informed that the one of the most important persons who was influential in my cooking, Chef Jacob, had passed away. And he was only 38.

Saturday 1.30 pm is the best time of the week for us, as Sun TV (channel 211 here)  airs Aha Enna Rusi, a cooking show hosted by this maverick chef who specialises in Southern Indian cuisine, especially the traditional ones. It is divided into three sections. The first section is his, called Jacob’s Kitchen and that’s a joke, the title.

We are not invited to his kitchen, but rather the various outdoor locations where he sets up his little stove and does the cooking there and then. He’d be by the waterfall, in the middle of a plantation, in a boat cruising by a river, and in one episode, I kid you not, right in the middle of a famous railway track!! Nonchalantly talking to us, giving tips, while we viewers nervously lookout for the goddam train to come.

Second segment takes us, again not in his kitchen, but to various family homes, where a member, sometimes two (husband wife/ mother daughter/etc) show us their home specialties, followed by our beloved chef tasting and appraising the dishes.

Third segment sees Chef Jacob with a bunch of kids, where he teaches them basic dish (usually involving bread), and get some other kids to judge the dish and awards the winner with prizes and crown. Rather than this, my wife and I enjoy the outtakes at the end of the show, of this segment, where Chef Jacob has fun with the kids.

The main highlight of his first segment is that it commemorates all those Hindu, Muslim and Christian special events. He’d be there, at those temples, churches or mosques, explaining the history behind the event, background of the holy place, and cooking suitable dish for that event.

Like  most South Indian Christian/Catholics that I know, and generally in India, I believe, he’s never shy from participating in Hindu rituals, praying, and, in fact, cooking special offering for the Hindu gods and goddesses (do note, that Hindu gods and goddesses all have their preferences, and he obliges with something extra). Likewise, excited enough to cook Briyani in front a famous mosque for the muslim brethrens (recent Haj festival), and that too, confessing that he has always been fascinated with Muslim cooking.

Its ritual for us, to be there at 1.30pm and watching the show. In fact, that would be the time sometimes we’d have our lunch in front of the TV, just to get more flavour in my poor cooking, I guess. If we had to go out at that time, we’d wonder, “What Chef Jacob up to now, and where (not what) the heck is he cooking?”

Last eight months or so, my wife started teaching part time on Saturdays. I continued our ritual watching the good chef with my son, Nevin. And when she comes back from work, one of the first things she’d ask would be, “What Chef Jacob is up to today?’

His dishes range from the very normal to very traditional, and I always look forward to the complex traditional types of dishes. In the show last week, he made a nifty fish curry by not using a fish but banana flower – fantastic for someone like me might be full vegetarian one day but still misses fish curry.

Alas, all that ends (they might have one more episode next week with him, but I don’t think I can hold back my tears watching it). The show might move on with another chef, who could be good, but memories of watching Jacob would remain entrenched that we may no longer want to follow the show.

The TVland is full of celebrity chefs now. Some are genial, good natured guys and gals, and then there are some bastards who think that being rude means they are in command. Fuck them; there will be, and are better chefs than these attention seeking sons of bitches (so far the gals are fine).

But Chef Jacob’s warm personality (as my wife puts it aptly), his keen interest in the history of the dish he is preparing, his generous sharing of the information and history of the location that he’s in (still baffled why he’d want to talk about the railway track and cook in the goddam middle of it), his easy chemistry as an elder brother to the kids, is something that can never been seen again.

Good bye, brother. We all love you. No matter where you are now, talk to those in charge and find the most weirdest location for you to cook for those fellers. And now, away from human beings, the pollutions, the erosion of great manners (in your profession), and all those nastiness that will remain and grow in this mortal world, I trust you are now cooking in peace. Thank you for everything.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

If Grouch can cook, for heaven’s sake, so can you.

I borrowed the above catchphrase from celebrity chef Martin “The Highlander” Yan, who ends all of his TV shows saying, “If Yan can cook, so can you”. But he was being modest, while I am being terribly honest because if I can, by all means you can be better than me.

Aside: I gave Yan’s that middle name because he never goddam ages. I’ve been watching his shows since I was like nine years old (with my mom, both big fan), but look at him today!!! End of aside.

So, I am hoping to make this into a series so not only I get to share my bad cooking, but I keep track of various versions of tofu dish I make for my wife. Each time I come up with a new way of cooking it, only to forget it the next time when wife says, “remember that time when you made it…umm….”

Brief history of tofu in my life.

We never had any, except when forced onto us kids by mom, till I met my wife. She lives on it. During our courting days (when we broke up about 29 times, though tofu is not involved, or so it’s press secretary claimed), I’d send her back to her home after work, and she’d drop by the grocers to buy tofu. History of seeing her eating other sort of food is sketchy, but she bleeds tofu. Her mom, when my parents met hers, declared that considering her eating habit, she is “low maintenance”.

So, when I married her, I married tofu as well, and the last three years I’d been cooking so many types I didn’t keep track. The Tofu community should have awarded me Nobel Peace Prize for Tofu Massacre.
The thing is I don’t what so great about it. It taste of….okay, here’s what I want you to do. Stick your tongue out and don’t touch your lips, or do some intimate things with it. Now, leave it sticking out. Can you taste that? That’s what tofu taste like.

I suppose I was myself trying to make it interesting by trying new things with it each time.
Anyway, here we go, Grouch style cooking show and note that I’d include recipes for other stuff I kinda cooked up myself. Hah “cooked up”. You are lame, Grouch.
Simple Tofu Sambal.


Tofu (duh!) – Maybe 2, but if you are my wife, 4 pieces.
Dry Red Chilli Paste – Two table spoons, or more if you literally hate your ass.
Garlic – minced, pounded, I don’t care as long it’s there. How much? Well, about five clove if you are Asian, or about 367 if you are Italian.
Onion – one medium sized. Feggedaboutit if you are a Hindu/Bhuddist monk
Tomato – One (if large), two (if medium) more (if cherry tomato, in which case you might as well don’t bloody cook).

Cooking technique

So, what’s the first thing you do, kids. Yes, the tofu. Cut them into small sizes of your preference, you can use your old geometrical instrument if you want. You can fry them first, but today I am lazy.

Cut the onion to, erm, whatchamacallit… thin slices. After that, wipe your tears and if your wife appears say that you were thinking of your dead uncle, though the bastard probably ran away with his maid and faked his death.

Oh, the garlic, mince, pound, whatever.

The tomato, you gotta dice them. How? You cut the shit out of it, that’s how. You must have seen some cooking shows on how they slice every goddam way and voila! Dices. Have a band-aid standbye

Now, heat a bit of oil in your pan or pot, whichever your wife might not use as assault weapon if your cooking sucks. How much of oil? Well, how old are you? How suicidal?

When it heats up, it will splutter like shit because you forgot to heat up the pan to dry the water droplets, in which case some of the oil hit you on your face giving you permanent scare, throw the onion in.

Wait till it becomes golden brown. Don’t get excited, that’s not real gold. Or at least for colour blinds like me.

Throw in the garlic and stir them for awhile until you realise that smell is not your son’s poo, but garlic burning.

So, scoop two (or more) tablespoons of chili paste and fry them till you hear your wife and son sneezing their lungs away.

Add in the tomato, and make sure you didn’t include the fingertip you accidentally sliced just now.

Now, you got to keep stirring till the tomato melts away, add bit of water if you want. If you don’t, I didn’t force you. That’s a disclaimer for you.

When they are about watery, add in the cut tofu. Now, here’s a tip. Instead of using spatula or any other appliances, I suggest you use a spoon and turn the tofu gently so that you don’t break them. There’s a tip for you, now take the tontee five rupees.

Cheating part

I use fish sauce, mwahahahahaha!!!! If you are vegetarian, you can use vege stock because these are the one that’s going to give taste, not the tofu.


Now, wait till it dries up. And wait. Turn the tofu. Wait. Scratch your bum. Turn the tofu. Wait. Turn the tofu. Wait. And finally when it is done, call for pizza delivery.

Friday, October 05, 2012

James Bond OO7 into 50th year (the movie bugger I mean): Some thoughts.

Ian Fleiming's impression of how James Bond should look. Your guess is not as good as mine.

It’s one of the most successful film franchises ever(take that Star Trek!). It has some of the most iconic movie moments, dialogues, glamourous, beautiful, sexy girls (take that Star Trek), great exotic locations (take that National Geographic), great action sequences (take that Die Hard),great villains and henchmen (take that Take That) and a bunch of actors playing the same character heroically, with the first one actually getting away in six (seven) films with a wig. And he’s the best.

You know the name, and you know the number, but you can never figure out how the heck did the James Bond film series reached 50 years with billions of revenue, millions of fan, thousands of rip-offs, hundreds of wannabes, ten of those who haven’t watched any of them and all that would not have happened if not for one man that created James Bond.

Well, two, if you consider the fact that the character James Bond was named after an author of a book on West Indies Birds, because Ian Fleming wanted a dull name for his hero for that espionage thriller story he was going to write.

You see. Fleming was trying to recover from the shock that he was suddenly married at the age of forty with someone (else’s wife first, who later divorced her hubby) when he was a happy go lucky, ex-Navy commander, journalist, car enthusiast, chain-smoking alcoholic trying to carve a name for himself and try to overcome his jealousy of that goddam brother of his, Peter, who was a lot more famous figure in the literature circle as awesome travel writer of that time.

Aside: Two, owing to the fact that the owner of that dull name had mom and dad, remember? You got to give credit where it’s due. For the benefit of twitter readers: James Bond nmd aftr some birdguy.Fleming mst thx his parents. Lol: N-of-asside.

It would be difficult for the present day folks, those who are, well, not even born in 1953, much less those who were born couple years later, to understand the phenomena of James Bond books. Okay, considering that most of the readers of this blog are Asians, I think it would be safe to say that it was not until somewhere in the later part of 1960s onwards when Bond started permeating Asia. And I don’t mean it in dirty way.

As usual, Japan was one of the first to catch up…so much so that in 1967 the producers decided that You Only Live Twice should be shot in Japan because the Novel it is based on is based in Japan. Hah! Fabulous decision, eh?

Well, Fleming fans knows this. And we say it in most sincere manner, “Fuck you, producers…"wait, where are all those asterisks. Okay, “F*** you producers, You Only Live Twice novel takes place after On Her Majesties’ Secret Service novel where Bond’s wife dies????”. I exaggerated. Back in 60s they used fewer exclamation marks. It hurts the typewriter (they existed as a job function)’s little finger.

Anyway, it was so phenomenal that we Asians actually managed to, with some difficulty, to spell, “Phenomenal”. The 70s upped the ante with more action oriented, humour laced Bond films that so much so, in Asia, any action films were labelled “James Bond styled action films” unless martial arts were involved (India and Turkey especially will understand what I am talking about).  

This writer is confused as to remembering which was the first Bond film he saw. Was it Octopussy bootleg video he watched in a relatives house during a festive season. Or was it You Only Live Twice open air screening we (he, his brothers and dad) watched in their plantation (we had to sit on straw mat, till dad has to force us to walk back to our home to bed, I, 8 or 9 years old, cried).

It was after this that I (this writer, who were you thinking) started to wonder who the heck James Bond was. I believe many of the non-European and American kids were figuring out too at that time. And in 1986, they decided to get another guy as Bond and that was the time when the name Ian Fleming was bandied about broadly.

This, is because the actor who was chosen at that time insisted that the character should go back to the book. I was intrigued. I borrowed books of the author from the school library. In fact, I stole three of them.
I kept up with the paper clippings at that time. The new guy is serious following Ian Fleming’s work. This was the time when reboot means you kick your brother again with your boot. And the producers and this actor just did that, brought back Bond to what Fleming was thinking about.

Also, at that time, they started screening the older Bond movies on TV and I was hooked as fanatic Bond fan for life, unitl 1995, of course, where I declared that I am an ex-Bond fan.

The point is. At some point in someone’s life, James Bond OO7 (not 007) has impacted some or other useless buggers’ life, including mine. Even if I hated the 1995-2002 version, and feel the 2006-present version got the right guy and everything else wrong; I still wait in bated breath for the next installation. 50 fucking years, I mean, 50  f****** years. That’s one badass achievement. Tonight, wife requested for us to start indoctrinating my son. Dr. No, here we come.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

When Ilayaraja dusts his .44

Decades after Clint Eastwood has done the last Dirty Harry movie, a reporter asked him what Harry would be doing now. Eastwood replied that he’d probably enjoying his retirement and probably fly-fishing. No more .44 Magnum, but a fishing rod. Sweet, though I feel the old man is chuckling to himself thinking of penile reference. 

Then he did Gran Torino, where you’d swear that that is old Dirty Harry and he picked up a gun again (granted it was not the Smith & Wesson) and gave us a hell of a treat. And went with a bang, saying that that might be his last acting role.

The truth is, he was never away. He was involved in more interesting projects, having had long left making mainstream thrillers, leaving them to the younger generation.

When Ilayaraja unleashed his masterpiece album, Neethane Enthan Pon Vasantham (NEPV) film songs, I was reminded of Eastwood. While he was away doing interesting projects, I turned away and was involved in my own exploration of music (listening, not playing), only indulging in his 70s/80s.  

The truth is, Ilayaraja never went away. I say this because the media and the Netizens are roaring that he’s back.

Apart from personal projects, he was also involved in other film industries, namely Malayalam, Telugu and getting better recognition that he should have long time ago in Hindi. True loyal fans were following. Once hardcore fan like me had basically lost interest in entire Tamizh film songs and was pursuing other musical stuff  and occasionally we’d go “oh, was it?” when reviews of one of his latest outing comes out.

“We” here referring to those who abandoned him back in 90s, like this idiot writer. And the new album made my conscience hurt as hell.

A very rich, layered, complexly composed album boasting great sound and awesome use of guitars, this album is to be cherished for years and should be sent to space in case for possible Alien invasion, so that they will go back in peace listening to it.

Not that it is as great of his past works, but this is this is what would have happened to all the old songs if he had access to the resources and equipments (not that I want them to remastered, well, ….hmmm). For this, we need to thank Gautham Menon for taking the initiative of no expense spared and making Ilayaraja wear a goddam suit, finally.

The best part of the album is the use of guitars. If not mistaken, this would probably be the most use of guitar in an Ilayaraja album. And it has goddam heavy metal sound/guitar too! Hot damn. Who would have thought that the usually monotonous warbler Yuvan would be awesome!

As a great fan of Ilayaraja, I have a feeling that Gautham want Ilayaraja to not only to reach out to the younger generation, but also reconnect to old lost fans like this knucklehead owner of this blog site. Boy did he succeed or what.

Just like Eastwood picked up that gun and proved who’s the real badass in Gran Torino, Ilayaraja picked up his own .44 and showed who’s the real maestro.

Oh, metal fans, listen to Penkal Endral. If someone were to question me asking if Ilayaraja can do Teutonic thrash metal, I ‘d say, “you betcha!”.

This needs no caption. Seriously.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chronicles of Nevin: Drool, gnaw and headbutt

I hope to make this a series so that I can cut down on the readers who are visiting this blog. Hah! Caught your attention.

Well, you know how new parents are, bragging about their baby, posting pictures after pictures, flooding their friend and family’s Facebook to the point that they actually reach for  a razor blade to sever their vital blood vessel, only to realise that it is Mach 3 Turbo shaving blade.

But, this is a blog, which is a shortened version of Weblog, which means I damn well write whatever pleased me, and I am going to keep it as a chronicle on my son – Nevin Shankaran Kumar. Which also means there will mention of lots of drool and poop.

Humorist Dave Barry once wrote that babies are gigantic drool  machines, and I concur as I wipe the big deposit Nevin left on his dad’s wrist (he tried gnawing on only let it go after hearing his dad’s stern whimpering).

Seriously, where does that gobs of spit come from, they are more than the milk he’s drinking. We’d be watching TV, him on my lap when a sudden moist starts to form on my wrist, or palm or any part of my hand that attracted my soon-to-be carnivorous son.

I did a google search on baby and drool and realised that actually the drool is good for him. It helps to clean the teeth (in his case, the gum) and helps with stomach acid. But with most of the drool all over mom and dad, how is it going to help him?

And then there’s the teething (or gum gnawing as I call it). We got him few of those teething toys but I think it would be a matter of months before he swallows those things. The way he pushes it into the mouth you actually feel sorry for the toy.

Oh, and did I mention about his thick skull.

No I am not insulting him. Apparently he does have skull of steel, just ask my wife. One day while she was playing with him, he fell forward (the neck still weak that time) and “bang!” my wife’s gum was bleeding. And he was unaffected. I myself got many back-headed knocks on my nose, cheek, shoulder and dammit, indifferent, he simply went on with his business of disseminating drool.

Nevin has now started on solid food. Well, not too solid, rice porridge with bits of potato or carrot all blended beyond recognition. He seemed to love it; hopefully it will lessen the drinking of his formula milk, a box which costs about the same as the GDP of Falkland Island.

He’s six month plus now (14th August),and damn, time does not only fly, it beams by. He has started talking gibberish, as usual, but you know how baby gibberish are – cute and speculative. We would translate them liberally. Like, “He is saying he loves accha (dad),” ; “No, he says he loves amma (mom),” ; “But…okay, dear. Agree with you. You can put down the weapon now. Slowly.”

I recently gave him a hair trim. This is opposing my mom’s insistence (“this is not about religion”, said twice a day praying Hindu lady) that he should be tonsured (thanks Ajay Baskar for that word). Surprise, he came out looking like mini-Bruce Willis (as per the same Ajay’s comment).

He is a bit slow, just started turning over like that roasted chicken you see in at restaurant roasters, when he’s supposed to attempt crawling. But he’s happy go lucky kid as recently demonstrated when after rolling off the mattress we laid for him on the floor, he banged his head backwards on the floor and then went on smiling and attempted to communicate to his feet in extreme close proximity.

So there you go, Nevin at his sixth month. A wonderful journey for parents who wkjiojfdlkjfasf ….oh crap, he drooled on the keyboard..mplkjijojirera;lknlslsdflasjf….

1973 (left) and 2012 (right)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Karnan 2012

A 48 year old Tamizh film. An epic classic. A masterpiece that showcased the greatest on-screen actor ever at his finest performance.

Yes, I am talking about Meenava Nanban.

Hah, got you! You know what I am talking about, Karnan, digitally remastered with DTS sound, released to an astounding success (150 days in Tamil Nadu, and worldwide release past one week). It has been my dream to watch a proper Sivaji Ganesan movie at the big screen and the rerelease is heaven sent.

Sort of.

This is an old well-known movie so we don’t need spoiler disclaimer. And you probably know the characters. 

Aside: Sivaji Ganesan is also known as Awesomesestest Actor among the Tamizh film industry, Nadigar Thilagam in that languag, so it will be abbreviated as NT henceforth. End of Aside.

Let’s get to the movie. One of the most fascinating scene in the movie will have to be the climax where NT  (Karnan) dies. And stays dead for a long time while characters around him bereaves.

But before that, NT spends equally long time dying while Krishna croons one of the most saddest song ever in the industry. Thank god it was by MSV/TKR, if it was Harris Jeyaraj Karnan would have voluntarily pulled out an arrow and slit his own throat.

But the fascinating thing is the revelation by Krishna that Karnan, who received arrows at the wrong end from Arjunan was killed six times before.

One was the time when Lord Indiran came in disguise to ask for Karnan’s armour and ear-ring thingy (the elaborate one) which were attached to the body. Karnan had to cut it off, and when Indiran realises the true magnanimity of Karnan, still keeps the armour but cleanses Karnan’s blood-drenched body.
It’s like you running over a stray cat, and with remorse you come back and cleans its blood.

Then you have the big-time mentor who teaches Karnan the use of the powerful but aerodynamically challenged snake arrow. Karnan has to pretend that he is a Brahmin in order to qualify as a student. But right after Karnan has finished the study, the mentor finds out the truth and curses Karnan ensuring that the damn arrow will not work at crucial moment. I am not sure if the mentor refunded the fee.

Then you have his mother Gunthi Devi asking for two boons, one, to not to kill Arjuna. And two not to use the snake arrow twice. When issuing the second Boon NT would be standing behind the open chest (which carried him as a baby, you know the story) and when she’s done asking, he slams it shut, almost saying, “I am screwed”. That is NT for you.

I mention all this because when Krishna reminds you of the incidents, it make you want to go back and watch the movie again and realise that this dude Karnan is basically screwed from beginning. Like having a perpetual dark stormy cloud over his head, which you will not see in this movie for two reasons.

One. It never was there, it was a figure of speech.

Two, because of the goddam reformatting. You see instead of original format, the new producers cut off the top and bottom of the frame to make the film widescreen. Now you can’t see the full head of other characters, as if the director wanted to hide Karnan’s male pattern baldness.

The supposed restoration of the print was bull in most parts. Most of the time the scratches, the splotches of colour are still there. The added on audio was a joke and it steadily becomes an insult to the original music when synthesiser comes in. The foley is fine though.

Despite the so-called “improvement” are middle-finger showing to the original creator’s vision, Karnan 2012 is massively watchable.

Fantastic all round performance, great script and wonderful songs.

Of acting, I’ll come to NT later. The next notable character, Krishna, was played with a zest by NT Rama Rao. But then he has been playing that character and its avatars for years that they are like second life for him.

And Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan. What can I say? As someone in the forum I am a member of put aptly, “We are not worthy…” to discuss his performance.

You will leave the theatre with a heavy feeling, mostly with visuals of NT walking, storming, crying, roaring, staring deep into your soul with those scorching eyes and much more.

I cannot imagine the impact of this film when it first came out; the audience must have not seen anything rich like this. What am I talking about? Even the younger generation will find it to be a fascinating experience.

I hear the next film to be restored is Thiruvilayadal. I hope they do a better job this time so that I can at least see Lord Shiva’s goddam trident.

NT as Karnan, reacting to the new added-on sounds.
Note: Actually the first boon Gunthi Devi asks is to spare the life of her children, but Karnan says he has to kill Arjunan. Anyway, if either Karnan or Arjunan dies, she still have five sons, he'd assure her. Thanks Joe for pointing the mistake out. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to buy a house…and don’t.

Aside: Wrote this out of frustration that project I am involved in is not satisfactory. End of aside.

You are reading this because you want to buy a house. What made you to come to this decision? Simple:
1.      You are engaged and soon to be married.
2.      You have been staying with your parents for far too long that you discover a conspiracy involving your mother, your meal and arsenic.
3.      All your buddies have bought a house and the next time someone opens his mouth about his new property and you swear you are going to shove his own sales and purchase agreement document up where the sun can’t shine even if it uses anti-gravity technology.
4.      Your parents have too much money and you are a jerk.

Considering these conditions, you decide that, yes, a house is the way to go.

But this post will eliminate the number four guy, because, well, everything is done for him and all he has to do is to wait for the entire process to be finish so that he can go right in and burn more money by the fireside even though there’s no winter in Malaysia.

How much can you afford?

As I said, the number four jerk can go to hell. This advice is for those who are earning here and there, monthly, and usually, by the end of the month you wonder if the banks are eating up your account so that they can pay for their CEOs manicure.

The simple truth about the current property situation is this: you can’t afford jack shit.

Property prices have been going up the roof, unless you are homeless. That’s the truth. As I learned the other day when my immediate boss and I met with my wife’s uncle, a very experienced valuer/real estate agent/consultant/my-wedding-reception-toast-bloke, uncle Clement, the property price is “ridiculously high”.
But let’s say, let’s just say, that you do earn a little bit and you have the confidence to pay for your monthly housing loan repayment. Well, good news because I am going to make you cry and hope that they allow caves to be rented again.

You see, there is more than just having a great salary. You have this thing that has been constant in your life ever since you decided how awesome it is that you don’t have to go to school anymore: bills.

Yes, bills and bills and more bills and I am not even talking about the Williams in your life. I am talking about moolah, money, dough that is being parted from you. Remember the tears.

Yeah, housing loan is all about how much of hard work you put when you are not facebooking, chatting, or downloading music, is taken away from you. How terrible.

But you can always calculate how much you can let go each month to the bank that has already paid the developer (of that house, if you are interested in buying) who then proceeds to spend it with the personnel from the relevant government ministry.

House buying process

By now, I guess you are already looking at that razor blade you are holding over your other wrist. Life is like that. Buying a house at these times is like voluntarily availing yourself to leg amputation even though you are in perfect health.

In short, go ahead and buy a home, the world is overpopulated already.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nevin Shankaran Kumar.

Regular readers of this blog are probably wondering why I haven’t post something for a long time. Well, the truth is regular readers of this blog site have become as irregular as election promises.

But those who know me might wonder why I am not writing about the new addition in my family, my son who was thrust the above name. Truth is simple; I don’t know what to write.

I actually wanted to write about the entire delivery process and all. One of my favourite humourist, Dave Barry, became a popular humourist thanks to his hilarious article detailing the birth of his first born, a son.

But the circumstance surrounding the birth of Nevin was not hilarious. Far from it, it was one of the most dreadful days of my life, with my wife and child’s mortality hanging in the balance. Okay, I am being dramatic there, but it was not until the next day after his birth where he looked like an ordinary new-born that I felt all will be okay. That’s because on his birth day, he was all tubed up in the baby’s ICU department looking like some oversized dried prune with human features.

The whole experience also affirmed me two things: One, as my buddy Joe Milton promised me before, women are indeed a lot strong, physically! Two, that this baby is a fighter and I don’t want him to lose that spirit.

Nevin is two months old on 14th April the other day. How has he fared? Well, for one, like men discovering the power of wealth, he discovered the power of crying.

At the initial stage, he indicated hunger by making sucking sound, either sucking his entire fist (yes, entire fist, not thumb) or just sucking sound. Later when he understood that crying gets the job done fast, he was up to the task.

Hungry? Cry your lungs out (which is good, by the way). Want daddy to carry him and do a horrible rendition of old Ilayaraja/MSV songs? Cry.

Otherwise, he is a good bloke. There would be roughly an hour or slightly more after milk session where he relaxes, stretches his hands and legs, and kisses his bolster.

Yes, you read that right, he kisses his bloody mini bolster. Like grabbing it and kissing it full on the imaginary bolster lips. I don’t know where he learned that (mommy/daddy are suspects), but I think I will conveniently blame it on actor Kamal Haasan.

The best moment is of course, the singing part. I’d lay his head over my chest and croon my way to his heart which immediately tells his head to “okay, it’s getting progressively worst, sleep bro, or at least pretend to”. And he sleeps. Or so I think.

Trouble is, he is getting heavy. He was 2.5kg when he was born, and now has progressed to 4.1kg in two months. It won’t be long before he is heavier than a sack of potato and daddy develops muscles enough to resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame.

His pooping (in our circle, we call it kakkaa, pronounced, cahcaah, or Kafka if you please), seemed normal. Usually I try to be helpful by asking how are things when I see him giving that constipated look. Useful questions like, “How’s business? How are things on the other end?” Apparently he is not appreciative of that.

I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that he might be a lefty (hand, not politics). The grip of his left hand and the kick of his left leg are powerful. Especially the leg. My younger brother, Shubash, and my wife are both lefties. Which means in future he will have trouble using scissors or potato peeler.

Or become a great footballer.

Whatever it is, I am proud of him, especially the bolster part. Unless the bolster decides sue him for sexual harassment.
That's Nevin, and his premature combover. He is not looking at the bolster, I tell you. He is not. Oh man...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mani Rathnam: Of Sexism and Homoeroticsm.

Mani Rathnam and his buddy, Goatie.

Tamil film industry is known for glorifying the mediocre, simply because there are very few greats. This holds true for directors especially after K. Balachander decided to stop being awesome and make a couple of films with Suhasini.

I mentioned Suhasini to do a “speaking of Suhasini” schtick simply because I wanted to talk about Mani Rathnam this time.

Why? Well, simply because he is touted as India’s greatest director by many and I wanted to convince myself, knowing well that nobody’s gonna agree, that he is not. Truth is, he had a shot to greatness but somewhere he fizzled. More importantly the future might actually remember him as sexist director with slight fascination with homoeroticms at the time when women broke the goddam glass ceiling, climbed up the iron ladder and knocked the male CEOs off their chair with wooden ladle.

Blatant accusation, you say? Hallo, this is a blog and usually that’s what it’s for. Plus no one would read this considering he has no release or health issue currently.

Let’s look at the women in his films. More often they are pushed back even though some stories are supposed to be around them. Let’s look at his first hit, Mouna Ragam. The story surrounds Revathi, but the point Mani is making was, “stop sulking you dumb bitch, and take what’s been given to you and suck it up”. She had to put up with this sad looking man when she’d rather hang around with an old Sardarji yearning to learn Telugu.

The followup mega success, Nayagan, is not kind to women either. There are prostitutes and the protagonist falls for one and marries and when you think everything is fine and dandy, Mani has her, not only shot few times, but have her roll off the window with her saree in the heroes hand. The hero’s daughter gets smacked around and runs away.

In Agni Natchathiram, they were either sluts or mothers who married the same man. Amala was too friendly love interest and Nirosha hung about in bikini. Great going there, Mr. Mani Rathnam the director.

What’s next? What was that movie that remade Karnan? Yeah, she loves him, but marries someone else making Rajini fans all around to be Shobanaphobic. Worst, from tough, macho, stylish bloke to a softer than banana cake nerdy government guy.

The leads own pair turns out to be the widow of the man he killed. Jeez he never even got to make out with her, and had to live to take care of the dead guy’s daughter. The second heroes wife is swell actually, until she got swollen and had to abort the baby.

I have not watched Geetanjali, but I suppose there are some disease and death involved. I have watched Anjali but I want to truthfully forget the film, even if I miss to point out that the Revathi character is made out to be a sucker for having a sneaky husband who hid the fact that her third child was alive. Of course, she continues to suffer until the child kicked the bucket.

Let’s move on to Mani Rathnam Phase Two: The ARR Years.

Roja. Now, what could possibly wrong with a film that shows a strong woman as the protagonist. Nothing of course, except she’s again shown helpless trying to locate her kidnapped husband who looked like secretly he’d rather be a Nationalist in constant debate with the enemy. His scenes with the terrorist seemed more intimate than with his wife. He even makes fiery love to his national flag, but that’s another matter entirely.

Mani later made a terrific movie that failed: Thiruda Thiruda. The heroine here, played by Heera, merely becomes the fodder for triangle love in what happens to be a buddy heist movie. The other female lead? A slut.

Bombay is a film I saw in sketches but the film is too horrible for me and many remember Monisha Koirala’s bouncing boobs more than the bombs. I have not seen Dil Se, but those who saw please let me know what happens to the women in the film.

And then comes Iruvar, a film that would have been a lot more awesome if only the director had dug deeper instead of showing a disclaimer movie that is apparently not about MGR and Karunanithi. The female lead? An abused actress who marries the main guy whose earlier wife is killed by disease and he in turn - under the excuse that a new actress looks just like his dead wife my-my - frolics around with a floozy. The second lead dude has a wife whom he almost killed no thanks to candle in his room, and latter hangs around some made-for-awards-looking actress. Yeah, a mistress.

Alai Payuthe is a film that I watched in patches. I will thank Mani for introducing R. Madhavan a brilliant actor who was terrible in his first film. Well, sticking to the subject, the lead female probably is spared of anything happening to her considering that she is not a slut, mistress or prostitute. Sure, I’ll cut some slack to …Eh? Accident? Oh.

Kannathil Muthamittal had Simran as female lead. Enough said.

You could say the next venture, Aytha Ezhutthu/Yuva, he was kinder to the women folks (three heroes’ pairs). Well, for one there’s a girl who made her lover to stand dangerously on a bridge divider of a very busy traffic and declare his love. Any woman does that to me, I’d write a note saying she’s the reason first before doing something suicidal like that. Not helped by the fact that in the Tamil version, it was played by Trisha who would go on to play many more versions of “to love or not to love” feminist version of Hamlet.
The second heroine was basically victim to an abusive husband. Yeah, we get to see her getting smacked around. The third is spared. Oh wait, she was to become a politician’s wife.

I have not seen Guru properly, so I will give Mani the due cut slack here.

His last film was probably the worst until I go back revisit Idhaya Kovil or attempt to watch Geetanjali (no!). Ravanan was a modern take on Ramayana, all about Seetha and her relationship with Rama and Ravanan. Her own husband suspects her of being victim of Stockholm Syndrome and she abandons him to go back her kidnapper. And god knows what her original kidnapper learned about her, at a crucial moment, he pushes her away and takes all the gazillion bullets.

There you go. In Mani’s world, women are evil necessetties. They are needed for the lovely Ilayaraja or AR Rahman tunes. They are needed to accompany the heroines during their initial “let me be happy and frolic around before I get miserable” moments. They are needed to be smacked about, pushed off the windown, shot at (not in that particular order), or are sluts, prostitutes and mitresses. They are just part of the population where males come first, and male to male relationship matters most. My claim of homoeroticism lies there, though I am not saying there’s any direct homosexual relationship in his films.

That’s why women are hindrances, because Mani is more interested in the strong male bonding. Take Nayagan for example, the daughter slaps the hero’s good friend and right hand man, and our man goes beserk. If the friend didn’t stop him, he would have strangled her to death. Friendship? I don’t know man, I would not do such a thing for a friend. My brother, maybe, but not my buddy.

Agni Natchathiram precisely examines the relationship of two brothers who are not actually brothers. Sure, step brothers, but their obsessive hatred to each other makes us think that two wrongs could be a right. Eh?
In Talabathi, our hero was prepared to give his life to his buddy. Who cares that no-good buddy made him a promise to marry the widow of a scumbag he had just killed after the credit sequence. Would you give your life to you friend? My wife and mother maybe. But my butt scratching, boozing, joke telling buddy? No way.

The buddy factor emerges again in Thiruda Thiruda.Sure, the annoying love triangle was there, but they did end up with good compromise, instead of killing each other as we still read about in the papers.

Likewise, take Iruvar for instance. It’s another long ode to friendship, too long to be comfortable. Prakashraj’s unnecessarily long soliloquy at the end of the film sound more fitting for a lover than  friend.

Aytha Ezhuttu specifically focusses on three man and how their paths cross each other. Females are there just to be smacked around, or to provoke you to jump on a bridge divider like an idiot.

The irony is, his wife, Suhasini, is known for portraying strong feminine characters and is herself is symbol of feminisim.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not telling that Mani is a terrible director. In fact, he is good. He was a trendsetter, clearly putting more emphasis on style over substance. He did what Sergio Leone did back in days over the western hemisphere. The cinematography in his film are iconic, as are the sharp editing and both Ilayaraja and AR Rahman gave some of their best compositions, both songs and background scores, in Mani Rathnam’s films. Even the crappy Ravanan revelled in gorgeous cinematography and good music.

Mani also extracted good performances from his actors, though minimalism have accidentally reduced many performances to woodenism. Kamal, Rajini proved that while they were making entertainers they still have it in them as great disciples of Balachander and Sivaji Ganesan in Mani’s films.

Entertaining as some of these films are, they are not great. The controversies in the film was basically the background subject itselves, like the so-called terrorism trios (Roja, Bombay, Dil Se). His film has not conveyed any controversial messages as I doubt if Mani even has some political opinions that he would like to impose in those flicks.

As far as controversy is concerned, Mani is like that kid trying to light the fuse of firecrackers only to run back many times thinking he has lit it. Mani has not lit any firecrackers. Plus he has been running to and fro so often that he forgot someone else has taken the goddam firecrackers and blew the shit out of it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Very Lame Post

This is Mr Lame Duck. Say hi to Lame, kids.

Though there are loads of work to do, it’s an hour and fifteen minutes to the beginning of a weekend. Plus, my blog post lately has mostly been on Tamil films. Shouldn’t it be about some crazy wolf, some news shit, you know things that contribute to the society besides low-fat yoghurt.

So I thought I comment on the world event today as per Google News.

On the top left corner Google news listed some names, let me comment.

Mitt Romney: How do you introduce him? Hi Alice, meet err…Mitt Romney.
Roger Federer: He always wants to be better. His brother was probably Roger Feder.
Tim Woods: Don’t get me started on puns related to his name. What a timber name. Haha. Okay, lame.
Kim Clijsters: Clit what??
Maria Sharapova: She still around?
Vladimir Putin: Tough luck, I ain’t commenting. I value my life.
Ricky Ponting: at what? Oh.
Syria: Burn baby burn.
Bernard Tomic: Imagine his name was Arnold instead. Arnold Tomic. A Tomic.
Brad Pitt: He’s still around?

Okay, Top Stories General.

PM: BN's focus is on long term gains to nation.
Can Najib be more original than issuing statements like this? How about “BN will focus on making chicken rice available at all toll counters”. Jeez, man.

Gillard aide quits after revealing Abbott's location
Monastery? Duh.

IJM and AZRB still awaiting formal letters of award from MRT Corp
More vowels? Jeez, man.

Australia on top as India stare at another embarrassing whitewash
It couldn’t raunchier and racist than that.

Why doesn't Apple have an Asia presence?
Huh? How do you explain all that goddam iPhones that kids earning less than my monkey’s uncle carrying here?

Broad 50 helps England push ahead
If 50 is broad, how would you describe 100? Obese?

Okay, Malaysian top stories now

Defence fails to prove cop gave contradictory testimony
Ah, murder trial. When are going to get headlines like, “cop confessed and ripped off defence lawyers head after becoming huge and green”. Jeez, man.

Liong Sik's cheating case ruling deferred
I’d retitle this as “Liong Sik’s cheating case ruling deferred and defecated”, and watch the clicks pouring in.

Dr Mahathir Conferred Honarary Doctorate In Thailand
Does that make him Dr. Dr. Mahathir. What did he do to Thailand?

We move to top southeast Asia news now.

Poachers get a taste for elephant meat
Which part? There, you dirty brained readers.

PHL sees expanded US military ties keeping China aggression at bay
Fight fire with fire. Get some Rottweilers, now that’s aggression.

Two Uighurs deported from Cambodia to China get life
“Get a life” eh?. Must be hardcore Vijay fans.

Australian rescued after boat capsizes
Southeast Asia – region of boat capsizes. Come and get capsized. Jeez, man.

Things are getting better, we are now looking at top World news now.

Rio de Janeiro's infrastructure is questioned after building collapse
As usual, prevention if better after the patient kicked the bucket.. Jeez, man.

No comment.

Sixteen kilograms of cocaine seized at UN
There you go, explains what those buggers been doing.

South Korean Charity Delivers Food to North Korea
Aw, that’s touching. Wonder if arsenic is part of the ingredients.

Now, we move on to the wonderfully dull world of Business news.

IJM and AZRB still awaiting formal letters of award from MRT Corp
Jeez, man. Get a vowel, get a frickin vowel!

Rise in sugar subsidy to ease burden of the people
And kill them with diabetes. Cool.

Cuepacs chief wants more of his officers on remuneration review committee
How do you spell that? Renumer…remine…ramone….

Nokia to expand its smartphone market, plans to overtake RIM
Good to know that you are overtaking Recording Industry of Malaysia.

Samsung Galaxy Note spills its guts
Took two days to clean the mess I heard.

Now the news that I totally don’t give a damn about…Sports.

Australian Open: Madam Meltdown takes major step
Wow, that’s sounds dangerous. Radioactive?

Liverpool v Manchester United: striker Wayne Rooney an injury doubt for FA Cup ...
What kinda headline is that. Is he doubting whether he’d be injured during the match? Or he himself is a doubtable character except the doubt is not strong, just injury. Jeez, man.

Australian Open 2012: Roger Federer stays upbeat despite another grand slam ...
Are they still open?

Pacesetter Rory McIlroy still wary of Tiger Woods
I know, right? The man is probably looking at your wife this instant. Quick.

Okay, now on to the news that I used to give a damn about, Entertainment.

Prosperity toss
How do you toss a goddam prosperity. Put some coins, notes, jewellery in the bowl and toss them. Screw you, news editor.

Michael Jackson's legacy cemented by children
Yeah,the story got something to do with cement. What if they build a statue for him. “Michael Jackson’s legacy erected by…”?

Next on is my favourite these days. Yes, it’s about Science where the headlines scream of innovations, inventions, and wonders of technology that made mankind progress by leaps and bounds and the first headline is…

Canadian teens launch Lego man into space

I’ll not click the “more science stories” part and go to the last section that has nothing to do with me, Health.

Nursery, childcare centre sealed for 21 days
And put in the fridge for freshness. Grouch, you are justifying this post’s title.

France: Ex-head of breast implant firm charged
Why, it was firm, wasn’t it?

Thanks for reading this very lame post. Have a great weekend and don’t forget to donate some goddam Vowels for IJM and AZRB. Jeez, man.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vettai: Proof that we still need Madhavan whether we suck as audience or not.

In a crucial scene from director Linggusamy’s Vettai, actor Madhavan gets off his wheelchair, stood up with a broken leg and even climbs over a very tall fence to save his brother. It was a very stupid scene. A scene that I would have laughed at, smacked my forehead and blame my nausea for and probably even provoked me to leave the cinema – but Madhavan made me bite my nails.

A get-rich-quick silly commercial fare, Vettai would not have worked if it was not Madhavan playing a cowardly cop, living in the glory of his brother helping to save cases, beating up cops.

Two decades ago, K. Bagyaraj played double role of twin brothers where cowardly cop Bagyaraj was helped by his twin brother and he gets the glory. In Vettai, a character actually mentions the name of the movie “Ragasiya Police”. It was supposed to be a reworking of an abandoned project that MGR did years before.

This time, same story, different actors, bigger budget. No MGR.

Ragasiya Police worked because of funny Bagyaraj. This movie worked because of not only a funny Madhavan, but because he is a good actor, we tend to follow his trials and tribulations of his cowardly character.

This character, Inspector Thirumoorthy, needs Madhavan the actor. Many films needed Rajini and Kamal, but all they got was poor man’s Rajini and sewage cleaner’s Kamal. This role needs someone with very easy sense of humour and who go one step up and give his own take. Madhavan was the man for it, and director Linggusamy was fortunate to have him on board.

I am not saying that it only need Madhavan. As cocky, brave, superheroic brother, Aarya did a fantastic job.I always liked Aarya and even liked his performance in the much loathed Sarvam . There was no need to establish scenes to show how much he loves his brother Madhavan, and people won’t have to suspend their belief to accept both of them as brothers. Aarya has his own niche in humour and is used well here.
In fact, there was more humour quotient that I expected. The girls, played by Sameera Reddy and Amala Paul, gets to be funny thanks to the script. And I have not laughed at Nasser since Avvai Shanmugi as I did here. And I have not laughed at a fight scene other than ones involving Kamal and Rajini, Aarya’s one-liners and puns reminded me of the glory days of Connery/Bond dropping them off after a tense action scene.

Still, without Madhavan, this film will be another Linggusamy’s young bloke against big gangster group story that he keep churning up again and again. Without Madhavan breathing life to a Vadiveloo/Vivek cowardly cop type, I would not have the goose bumps when he comes back and whops ass. Even my baby was stirring in the mother’s womb. Seriously.

Actually it was punching and kicking her, poor wifey. Never mind, Madhavan eased her pain.

Anyway, this is Madhavan, perhaps the most versatile actor of his generation. Put him anywhere, he delivers the good. He has done variety of roles in variety of genre. One thing that gets him ahead of the so-called “stars” of his generation is that he had done a successful horror film.

Yeah, the kind of film I loath. In fact, Yavarum Nalam (13B in Hindi) was a cheap, gimmick-ladden, clichéd Asian horror type of film that I would have laughed off, but got me gripped for Madhavan’s performance alone.

Here’s a message to Tamil filmmakers. Sure, Madhavan got no ambition. He doesn’t want to be the next Kamal (no longer his guru, but, officially, his God) or the next Superstar (dream on you Rajini wannabes), he just. I don’t know. He doesn’t even drink like his character does in Manmadhan Ambu  (a film watchable for him alone….ouch…okay since my wife insist, watchable for Kamal and him) for us to milk a confession from him (Maybe, “I want to be next Prabhu” Okay, Madhavan, two plane seats reservation is expensive).

But please use him. Use him in any film you want and he would fit in and give his best and give some more. This is one of the most clichéd, knuckleheaded masala film that I have watched that I want to watch again because Madhavan and Arya. Especially Madhavan.