Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Love all, Serve all" - The essence of the Vedas and the basis of Hindu thought

A day after the 80'th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Shri Sathya Sai Baba I am happy to share with you the address of a great site that I have refered to many a time to remind myself of the divine knowledge of the vedas. The truth that has been explained here is what I believe to be the same truth that is explained by all the true and great religions of the world. The teaching will make clear the meaning of Baba's most popular saying, "Love all, Serve all", a saying that was used by Hard Rock Cafe as the restaurant chain's chief marketing and hospitality slogan.

From the main overview page follow the appropriate links.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Two touching stories from two weeks ago

It is sad and appalling that so many people are being killed in Iraq everyday and we can only be mute witnesses to these reports. Will there ever be an end? I can only pray for those helpless people there. My heart goes out to those helpless Americans too who have no escape from the totally unwanted situation they have been put into as they are suffering human losses too. When I was studying ancient civilizations in school little did I realize that this would be the Iraq and Mesopotamia I would be hearing, seeing and reading about then.

When there is so much of hostility in the world today there are incidents that move you and one's that the world can learn from. One such incident happend two weeks ago.

In the sensitive West Bank area Israeli soldiers gun down a 12 year old boy mistaking his toy gun for a real one. (Can you imagine that? If you are within the visual vicinity of these soldiers make sure you don't scratch your head even if it itches real bad. The soldiers may mistake you thinking you are gonna hurl a grenade!) The parents of the dead boy then donate his organs to needy Israeli patients awaiting transplants.

Read all about the moving story by following this link:

We are all one. Aren't we? How man's thinking separates him and his brethren biased on colour, caste, religion, language, country, even accent. God proves this oneness time and again with incidents such as these.


The second story is certainly not for the squeamish.

Human Guinea pigs were not made out of war prisoners alone. Scapegoats and misled people were easy targets for researchers and here is one very tragic story. It is sad I missed this one in all these years. Already a popular book titled "The boy who was raised as a girl" this is the sad and moving story of David Reimer and the dangers of pitting science vs nature.

Here are links to the full story.

BBC Horizon's report for a report that I read on BBC

and for the original story by John Colapinto as it appeared in Rolling Stone magazine,

and finally a similar report but one with more pictures of David,

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A bevy of beauties from Kerala

Audience: Tamil and Malayalam movie goers.

It looks as though every other heroine in today's next big hit Tamil movie is a girl from Kerala. Why not? They are talented, quick learners and are beautiful. The Tamil film heroine-industry seems to be run over by Asin, Nayanthara, Gopika, Meera Jasmine, Renuka Menon, Navya Nair, Priya Mani, and Sandhya to just name the top few. Some of them have been overbooked for almost two years. Asin, clearly is on a roll. She has been cast with the top heroes of Tamil cinema and currently three of these movies are among the top grossers in the state. Two of her movies were simultaneously released on Deepavali. Also on the festival day she was on every other TV channel for special programmes. People are lauding her performance in "Gajini". Already having had a successful run in Telugu with the top stars there (Venkatesh, Chiranjeevi and others), she is now making waves in the Tamil film industry.

I then decided to make a list of all the "mallu" artistes who made it big in the Tamil movie industry and I was quite surprised with the number of names I could come up with. Send in your entries and comments if I missed anyone or if I got someone wrong.

Pardon my inaccuracy, here is the list in reverse chronological order: (the movie(s) and other relevant info are mentioned in parantheses)

Abhirami (Virumandi), Shalini (Alaipayuthe, Kaadalukku Mariyadai), the late Shalini Kumar a.k.a Mayuri (Shock), Kavya Madhavan (Kasi, En Mana Vaanil), Kaveri (Kasi, Kannukul Nilavu), Geethu Mohandas (Nala Damayanthi, was also the child artiste in "BommakuttyAmmavukku"), Sindhu (Kadal Pookal), Divya Unni (Kannan Varuvan, Sabaash), Samyuktha Varma (Thenkasi Pattanam), Anju Aravind(Poove Unakkaga, Vaanathaipole), Charmila (Kizhake Varum Paattu), Sithara (Pudu Vasantham), Sabitha Anand (Chinna Poove Mella Pesu, Vaanathaipole), Lissy (Vikram, Manasukkul Mathappu), Shreeja (Cheran Pandian), Chithra (Cheran Pandian), Revathy, Shobana, Nadia Moidu, Radha, Ambika, Urvasi, Kalpana (Urvasi's sister, movies - Davani Kanavugal, Sathi Leelavathi), Shari (Meendum Liza), Karthika (Poovizhi Vasalile, Nayakan), Shanthi krishna (Panneer Pushpangal, Sivappu Malli), Menaka (Nettrikan), Jalaja (the movie that had the song "Nee varuvai enna naan ninaithen.."), Poornima Jayaram, Deepa (Meendum Kokila, Johnny), Rani Padmini (the yester-years' girl who was stabbed to death by her driver), Seema, Jayabarathy (Marupakkam, Michael Madana Kama Rajan), Sumithra, Pramila (Thanga Pathakam, Arangettram), Rani chandra (Bhadrakali), K.R. Vijaya, Padmini & Ragini (Shobana is related to them) and Sukumari.

I think I can also mention Shyamilee, Shalini's sister who did an adorable role in "Anjali" and later in "Kandukonden Kandukonden".

I am told that Meena is a Malayalee too but since I am not sure I'll wait for your comments. So also of Aiswarya (Lakshmi's daughter), Lakshmi and veteran actresses Sri Vidhya and Venniradai Nirmala. I am also told that other veterans of Malayalam cinema such as Sheela did also act in Tamil movies.

By the way I haven't included those from the TV Serials. One of them was also a child artiste in the movies "Mundanai Mudichu" and "Poovizhi Vasalile".

Sunday, November 06, 2005

After almost a decade I visit "Rajalakshmi"...and "Ghajini", the movie we saw there

"Rajalakshmi", the cinema in Velachery, where I used to watch a film almost every week with my family during my school days and early college days. Visits later became sporadic and if I can recall the last visit was in the mid nineties for the unforgettable movie "Idhayam" that I went to see with a friend. The theatre hasn't changed much. The same old claustrophobic dungeon like chambers for queues for the lower fares, the caged fight-for-space chambers for the higher fares and one counter for different ticket dinominations, all exist to this day. The boxes on the first floor each seating about 25-30 people have been converted into air-conditioned chambers. So instead of an opening from the boxes (from where one could literally jump down) a glass wall has been put into place. It is not continuous though. This means that if you got the unlucky seats in the middle of the box you would actually see a line (the gap where the two big pieces of the glass wall meet) on the screen of the movie. The best part was the sound. Thank God it wasn't the poor fidelity, ear-schreeching sound. There was a decent woofer-tweeter combo in our chamber and unlike in the past it wasn't switched on and off for "special effects" during the fight scenes. Anyway things weren't as bad as expected. What a feeling it was after watching Tamil and Malayalam movies in cinemas in Altanta and Toronto.

Now for the movie. If you are planning to watch "Ghajini", the Suriya, Asin starrer, still running in the popular cinemas in the city I suggest you don't. You are better off watching it on DVD or CD at home for reasons I'll explain. The first half is a gem. Thoroughly enjoyable and literally flawless. Then, after the interval comes the unexpected. Excessive violence, dripping blood, maiming, bludgeoning and murder are what you get and tonnes of it. You have no idea of how the heroine is killed. I haven't seen anything remote to this in recent years. I had to cuddle my son from time to time and cover his eyes. Has the public become completely innured to violence? It looks as though the only other formula to violence is again more brutal, realistc and sadistic violence. Ah! the things our directors ape from the west. But even in English movies I haven't seen this much violence depicted on women. Nayanthara is bashed by a man on her abdomen and she is shown reeling from the pain in an unusually long scene. Was it suggesting that she was hit somewhere else? And all this in full presence of her entire college hostel. The audience in the theatre complimentng to that audience. Psychologically it aids the feeling that we can all still be mute spectators when we see crimes such as these in our real lives. A hostel girl is then shot dead and stripped naked. By now you are left wondering why no one even thought of calling the police. Had these girls and hostel staff seen "Mirch Masala" I am sure they would have got an idea of what to do in such do or die situations. This is then followed by the never ending bashing of the villians by the hero. More blood, gore and mutilations follow with the female lead screaming "Kill, Kill" again in the full presence of the women's hostel. The movie has several other serious flaws too but I will not be getting into them. Suriya did put on a great performance. Asin is pretty and does a cute role befitting her personality but I have reasons not to be carried away with her performance, though I do get moved whenever she cries or feels pain.

All the fun gone, I was just praying that the shit ends. It was just goin on and on without end. That's another feeling you get watching movies in the cinema unlike home where you can reach for your favourite fast-forward button.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Writing about Meera's film I recall an unforgettable incident

In my earlier post when I wrote about Meera's movie and marital rape I was reminded of an incident that I would like to share with you.

It was the year 1991. I was working for a company in Peters Road, Royapettah, here in Chennai and it was my first job. There was a senior citizen in the company who could blow away anyone with a first impression. Always sharply dressed, polite and courteous he spoke very little and always kept to himself. He must have been well over 60 and seemed in perfect health. He was in charge of public relations and a job that befitted his personality so well.

One day during a lighter moment in the company he called me aside and asked me for my age. When I told him (me, in my early to mid 20's then) I was surprised to hear him say, "You should have been married by now or must be married in the next year or so." To which I responded, "But in our community boys normally get married around 27 or 28." When I asked him why he had said so, he replied, "24 or 25 is the best age for a boy because the real joy of marriage lies only in these years. By the time you reach 27 or 28 you have actually missed out a lot."

I then asked him about his marriage and I was totally unprepared to hear what he had to say. Here is his story in his own words. "I got married in the 1940's. I was in my early 20's then. The marriage was an arranged one based on the horoscope. When my parents decided it was time for me to get married they went to their village and picked a girl. The girl was just barely out of her teens. I saw her for the first time on the day of the wedding only. She too was seeing me for the first time only then. Unfortunately in those days life in the village was very backward and rural. My wife had never seen a movie. There were no cinemas either. Reading novels was forbidden too."

He paused for a while and continued, "Consequently my wife had very little knowledge about men and relationships and I had to wait for almost two years to consummate my marriage."

He paused again as though he expected me to ask him something. In my disbelief I just couldn't say a word. He resumed, "We later had four children and have never had to use any of the contraceptive methods in all our married life."

I was taken aback so much at his openness and frankness that I was hesitant to ask him for details although I am sure he would have enlightened me appropriately if I had done so. "What a beautiful love story", I thought to myself then. Wasn't there beauty in his waiting and giving his wife time to get to know things. I can imagine the love and respect he would have elicited from her.

Our older generation, unbeatable, even in love.