Monday, March 30, 2009

The beauty of the beach nearby

Visits to the beach get more frequent as the summer grows hotter and hotter. Here is a pic from a recent visit to the less crowded Thiruvanmiyur beach.

Why I hate Kathakali

My father being a non-Malayalee hated it. He found it impossible to sit patiently and watch. Mother on the other hand loved it. So being more of a Malayalee why do I hate it?

One friend and one who incidentally has done some Kathakali dancing himself told me that unless I understood Kathakali I would not be able to appreciate it. Certainly Kathakali is no rocket-science and neither its viewers, all in perfect understanding of the art. But the reason I despise it is because my first viewings of Kathakali I saw as a child were of "horrors" and that which caused not only revulsion but utter disgust for this art form. Let me explain.

Amma agrees that in Kathakali there is a seperate section dedicated to "Vadhams" i.e executions or killings. Can you imagine that? Some of them are "Keechaka Vadham", or the killing of Keechaka, (we know in the Mahabaratha how brutally Bheema kills Kechaka for making advancements towards Draupadi, Bheema's wife), "Bali Vadham" or the killing of Bali and the most notorious of them all "Hiranyakashapu Vadham", the killing of Hiranyakashapu by Lord Narasimha. Gruesome and grotesquely barbaric, Kathakali, the dance form relives these killings in all its brutality.

As a child I was unfortunate to watch the "Hiranyakashapu Vadham" something that made me wonder how barbaric the human race is to permit an art form revel in brutal killing in the form of a dance form and watch and enjoy it. The show was unbearable.
In one of his avatars, Lord Vishnu incarnates as Lord Narasimha a beastly God with the face of a Lion and with claws in his hands. On stage the lion faced creature first indulges in a duel knocking Hiranyakashapu immobile but alive. Then the Lion God goes about the torture, systematically ripping open Hiranyakashapu's chest and drinking his blood, pulling out his intestines and wearing them as garlands, organs being ripped out and spilling blood all over. And all the time Hiranyakashapu is struggling and writhing in unbearable agony and not being able to escape from the Lion God, Narasimha. The Lion God hungrily and with all evil in his eyes and face makes mayhem of Hiranyakashapu's body. Even in the Coliseum the killings were not so barbaric. Luckily I was not in a stage where I could run out. It was on T.V and in a movie. I have seen similar "Vadham" performances, again on T.V (thank God I could switch it off or change channels) only to be disgusted with it all the more. As a child watching such barbaric shows can only be a natural turn-off to such art forms no matter how much it is praised or lauded by others.

I would certainly not take my child to such a horror show.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My site is back on

What a relief!

Check it out -

I retire madrasbee and stop reviews on

Due to lack of time I am retiring Madrasbee my blog on Indian music. I am also stopping the reviews of movies on as they are editing and removing reviews. Instead I will be posting reviews here but don't know how frequently how much in detail.

I may begin another blog for the reviews but I am not sure how soon.

If you have been reading my reviews on Madrasbee and I thank you for your interest and your comments.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great anonymous albums down

Hello friends. A domian transfer is taking place and that is the reason why my music blog is down. Actually it shouldn't be down. I did a small mistake and it can be rectified only after the transfer is complete and I am not sure how soon that is going to take place.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth hour

Reading Minu's blog I came across this interesting article on Earth hour.

Read the article here and mark your calendars.

A memorable show at ISS 2008

First comes the stunner from Sonia that left KPAC Lalitha sobbing uncontrollably. What lovely singing. The flat is yours girl!

It was interesting to know that Bharathan has composed the beautiful song "..Vaal Kannadi" from the film "Keli".

Vivekanandan also gave a stellar performance and Rimi Tomi sang "Malare" very well with Prashob. Venugopal commenting on Prashob's performance was at fault again when he said how Prashob's singing reminded him so much of SPB's singing. That was totally wrong. Though Prashob tried to sing like SPB did and even tried some improvisation there were flaws.

Rimi Tomi presence as always was sparkling.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It is Gayathri's turn to sizzle on ISS

I am happy Gayathri is still there in the competition and last night's performance would have been a knock-out one if only she hadn't lost control of the words of the song in some places.

Her looks, attire, attitude and her sensuous body language were perfect for the remix song she performed. I don't know what singer Venugopal found it so annoying in her performance that he had to comment so poorly. I had a strong feeling that he was so spell boutnd with Gayathri's performance he could only chide her instead of lauding her. What a loser! I wanted to throw him out of the judges panel for the way he was talking last night. As it is his sissy attitude gets on my nerves. At the end of it all he still says "..but Gayathri you did your part well.." Well that's exactly you need to be saying for a performance as that.

What Venugopal found annoying every one of the other judges loved it. What Venugopal also doesn't know is that the original was a sensuous number in itself and by using a techno remix song of the original and taking it to another sensuous level is in no way doing injustice to it. I can understand when judges were annoyed with the remix of "Inji Iduppazhaga" but then that's how most remixes are made. If the judges are pissed with the remixes they must vent their anger on the people who made these remixes on the first place and not on the hapless contestants. Why then in the world do they have such a "remix-round" in the competition.

Way to go Gayathri.

Meanwhile I am reminder of Roopa's performance in last years Super Star Global where I told her the lyrics to "Thulluvatho Ilamai". Roopa unfortunately lost sight of the lyrics in her performance. Roopa also did tell me that Gayathri had contacted her for advice. Was it Roopa who adviced Gayathri for the remix round. Gayathri certainly did better.

Monday, March 23, 2009

After a long time a lovely song from a Malayalam movie

I have been contemplating retiring madrasbee and my reviews on Amazon and instead start posting those reviews here on this blog. But plans haven't been confirmed yet.

After a long gap here is a lovely Malayalam film song. It is from the new Mohanlal starrer called "Sagar Alias Jacky" and it is called "Melle Melle". Beautifully sung it is currently at the top of the Malayalam charts on

Check it out here.

Musicindiaonline is getting very unreliable these days. Check out the video if you are unable to listen to the song on

Gayathri of Idea Star Singer 2008 gets married?

This morning Jaya gets a call from her cousin who tells her that Gayathri's marriage photos are splashed all over the web. According to what I have been hearing and reading Gayathri got married in hushed-up-quick marriage just days ago. I Google for the same and dozens of URLs appear in the search results. Click any one of them and they lead you to her marriage pics that look very genuine.

Wonder what's going to happen to the show. Will Gayathri continue or quit? If she walks out there is hardly any competition left for Sonia. I hope that doesn't happen. Gayathri is after all such a fine performer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I finally locate a classic Kannada song

Everytime I watched this beautiful song I always would tell myself that I have to watch this movie but I never did. After a long time wait it is finally on YouTube or probably it was there and I couldn't find it.

(The video has been removed on YouTube)

And here's another classic from Malayalam featuring the one and only Shoba. An acoustic classic I couldn't believe a song like this existed in Malayalam when I first heard/saw it.

And here's a sweet singer Hemlatha who had big hits in the 80's. Here is one of them.

I am reminded so much of Adithi Chandra my classmate at Vana Vani who used to sing a lot of these songs in our school in the 80's. I hope she is doing well. Whenever the teacher for a class was absent (called a "free period") Adithi would be requested to sing and she would simply comply happily.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gayathri didn't disappoint one bit

What an amazing performance! Gayathri was at her best, completely poised and relaxed, the mark of a truly great performer. After listening to the original I am beginning to like this one that the Gayathri at ISS sang because the original has a huskier voice sung by the singer Gayathri (also of the same name).

Check out her performance below. Judges were very impressed.

You can compare the performance with the original and judge yourself. Check the original here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guruji rocks

Our own desi search engine rocks when it comes to music. Just try a song in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu that you were searching for long on the web and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Still in its beta version but it is simply too good.

Just a few songs but I could get most of those rare ones that I had been searching for so long.

Poor Arya bears the brunt of someone else's fault

Vivekanandan is ony getting better with each performance. The melody of yesterday's "Samyamagannoru Udyaname.." was beautiful particularly in the words "..Deviyundodevi..". Sonia's was good if not excellent.

Here is Vivek's performance.

But the real tradedy was in Arya's performance who unfortunately is getting poorer with each performance. Selecting the techno version of Ilayaraja's "Inji Iduppazhaga" maybe was a bad choice but judges took off on the poor thing because they hated the techno version of the original. Why blame the poor girl if someone else did the Techno version? Then the judges tell her that she must have consulted them for a better song. Why? Why can't participants choose their own song. I indicated this a few posts ago. The poor thing even confessed that she hadn't listened to the original or even know it existed. But the damage was done. One by one they let their fury on her who took the scolding with a brave face.

Don't miss today's Gayathri's performance as it looked so good. She is singing one of Gayathri's songs that the latter dueted with Venugopal (who is judging) the show.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Indians ragging foreigners?

In the light of the recent ragging events where a young life has been tragically lost have you wondered how foreign students who join our universities and colleges are treated?

Many of them particularly from Africa are ignored by the Indian ragging seniors. When I joined MCC in 1985 there was my classmate Abdul Khader from Somalia. Abdul was a good student but left after a year or two of study. He was hardly confronted by a senior but that was not the case in the following story.

This incident could have been an urban legend but I have heard it from many people. The first person who told me was my friend Subra(Subramaniyam) in school who used to stay inside the Anna University campus as his father used to a Professor there.

The story is about an African fresher in Anna University who had a past not many seniors knew. He was alone and had hardly any Indian friends. That reminds me of the "Ottayaan" (in Malayalam) elephant who is feared more than the herd. He was well built and of good height. People who have seen him bare chested recall a gruesome scar running diagonally across his chest. What seniors didn't know was that our African fresher was a small time tribal warrior back in his homeland in Africa who had also fought battles. Sounds nice already doesn't it. Oh you must read the rest.

Although initially none of the seniors even wanted to talk to him some of them were keen to bully the guy just for amusement. Initial encounters were politely rebuffed by our African friend though he was gradually begining to sense the intent behind the meetings. Gradually seniors were losing patience and they decided to go all out to rag the guy. Apprehensive of the outcome they gathered a crowd and decided to corner him in the hostel mess when he would come down for his dinner. So when our friend was having his dinner the big group of seniors accosted him. I am sure out of his warfare-instinct this gathering would have already put him on high alert. Once again he played low to the questions that were slowly increasing in impoliteness. Then the decider came. Someone calls him a "Bastard" and another seizes the collar of his shirt.

What happened in the next 30 minutes was "War" and "Mayhem". Bang! Boom! Crash!Chairs, dinner plates and bodies flew across the dining area of the mess. Bones were broken and blood was spilt. Seniors fled for their lives. A few of them who mustered courage to attack the African were knocked unconscious. It was as though a terrorist had entered the hostel mess and had decided to do away with the seniors there. Other non-ragging seniors and freshers, mess workers and staff fled the area not wanting to get hurt in the melee. All the time just one guy bare handed was doing all this damage. Fleeing seniors bleeding and with torn clothes went knocking at the doors of the resident Warden and Professors in charge to complain of what had just been done to them. For once I am sure the Wardens and officials in charge were smiling inside.

Not much is known of what happened later but it is believed that no one after that incident dared to go near the African warrior any more.

How much we enjoyed listening to and sharing this story only we know. In these times when seniors are still brutally ragging juniors to the death I will not be surprised if such stories are told by someone somewhere in a college in India.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shame on our educational system and our government - A first year student is brutally ragged to his death

The fact that Aman was brutally killed indicates the total failure of our educational system. Another girl, this time in Andhra Pradesh, a couple of days after the Aman murder incident made a suicide attempt on her life after being humiliated by her seniors.

These incidents are not going to stop. It happens every year and it will go on. Shameful reports of second year and senior students physically and brutally abusing freshers fill our media every year. Sometimes it goes to the extreme as in this case of Aman, a first year student in a medical college in Himachal Pradesh who has been beaten to his death by his seniors. When the media were naming the culprits they were being called Dr.X, Dr.Y and so on. In the first place these guys haven't completed their courses or haven't become doctors yet. Secondly these guys don't deserve to be called doctors because they don't understand the meaning and value of life.

What many of the perpetrators never know is the sensitiveness of the people being ragged. Some are hypersensitive. In Singapore I was told that the Government had to intervene and ban ragging from colleges after a number of students took their own lives not being able to tolerate the humiliation of ragging.

In my opinion here are some important reasons why ragging is being done.

1. Brutal physical or emotional ragging is done by seniors to vent their frustration rather than for pleasure or making juniors subservient to them. The excuse of getting respect from juniors or the fact that they were ragged is no reason to rag freshers.

2. This frustration is due to several reasons -
a) Lack of emotional needs - This could be love, caring, friendships in that order.
b) Lack of sexual pleasure fullfillment.
c) Not being able to study, or concentrate on studies or pass exams - During many of the ragging sessions juniors are asked to make projects, take down notes and what not for their seniors.
d) Problems from their families - economic, emotional.

3. The curriculum and syllabi which all need a major upgrades and constant updates. The entire course material needs to be of better quality. This may sound like a trivial point but I have seen school books in Singapore where the quality of the material and courseware is so good that even adults will be enticed to read and study them. Our production of good students need not necessarily be the outcome of our courseware.

4. Jealousy towards newcomers in whom the seniors see things that they (the seniors) are deprived of.

5. Racism too - People from one state venting their frustration on freshers who come from another state. However in the college wher my brother went to in Bangalore you could only be ragged by the seniors who come from the same state as you.

One wonders if the situation will change even if the culprits were punished.
In 1996, the Annamalai University's Raja Muthiah Medical College, Chidamabaram a similar dastardly act took the life of the only son of a Vice Chancellor. The crime was horrific where the body was mutilated severing head, torso, limbs and organs using surgical knives. The culprit who was initially arrested was later freed by the court. The same could also happen to the culprits of the most recent murder. So much for justice in our country.

In the light of ragging I have an interesting story for my next post. I am not sure if this is a myth but it was told by my friend in school while he was a resident of the Anna University campus, Chennai and while his father was serving as a Professor there. I have heard it from other people as well.

Watch out for the post.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My cousin Meera's pencil drawings' exhibition

Purely self-taught like her mother Meera has been painting and making pencil drawings from her childhood days. She is having her very first drawings' exhibition at Ambassador Pallava, in Egmore, Chennai. If you live around this area please do try and make a vist. Here is the official invite.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Aamir, a good film

On Friday I watched Aamir, a movie I have been planning to watch for some time. It was on T.V and I must say it was a good film with a poignant touch to it. I would have elevated it to a very good movie only if the editing had been a little more crisper as in the classic "A Wednesday". The songs could have certainly been avoided as some of them only changed the pace of the film and that which was very irritating.

Watch it if you haven't.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vivekanandan continues ISS with another stellar show

Yesterday Vivekanandan delivered another stunner in his smooth voice by singing a tough composition from "Bharathom". Singer Venugopal was right when he said Vivek had added his own meat to the difficult number originally sung by Yeshudas. Vivek is back in the competition and at the top.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Copying? Imitating? Influenced by?

Check out the similarities between these songs.

A R Rahmans Jai Ho (particularly the second Hindi vocals from Sukhwinder Singh that goes "Katti Katti sachi...(not sure of the exact words though))" from "Slumdog Millionaire" and the opening lines of Shankar Ehshaan Loy's "Socha Hai" sung by Farhaan Akthar for the movie "Rock On" and Status Quo's "Rocking All Over the World" made way back in 1977 sound very similar. Is that just a coincidence?

ARR's "Ghuzharish" has the same music as the tamil song "Kelamal" from the Vijay-Shreya starrer "Azhagiya Thamizh Magan" which was also composed by him. Now listen to Limahl's song "Never Ending Story" from the movie of the same name. "Never Ending Story" was made in the 80's. The music from that song has been directly lifted for the Indian songs. Any child could say that the music is just the same. Other tunes (bass and singing in the charanam) in the song remind me heavily of the band Kajagoogoo, and Limahl co-incidentally happens to be an ex-member of Kajagoogoo.

This also goes on to show how old tunes can be lifted from songs on one side of the world and packaged as new material and eventually converted into new hits. Many of these are nothing but disco songs that we used to be so sick of in those days.

The opening lines of A R Rahman's "En Veetu Thotathil Poovellam kettu paar" from the Tamil film "Gentleman" is a perfect copy of the tune of a very old Malayalam Bhajan that people have been singing for ages called "Ayyappa Hare Ayappa Paahimam...".

A R Rahman's Roja theme ( a romantic piano piece), in his first film and the closing theme from the movie "The Bounty" composed by Vangelis made in the early 80's sound very similar. I have tried searching for this theme and all you get are remixes and stuff. You will have to watch the movie closely for this theme. If you have listened to the Vangelis's number you'll instantly catch the theme in Roja as well.

And of course without Reggae there would have never been a song as "Chinna Chinna Aasai" too.

David Ebenezer and Jessy in The Hindu

When Suji called me yesterday evening and began asking me about someone familiar she had just seen in the newspaper yesterday I knew David and Jessy were in the papers. The popular Newspaper in the south, in their supplement portion included a column on the newly weds. As I didn't read the suppliment I missed them in that morning read. Click to view the online edition of the same. It has a color picture of David and Jessy as in the image below unlike the black and white picture in the newspaper.

David and Jessy in The Hindu

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are your cosmetics, oral and hair care and nutritional products good enough?

I was shocked at what this site told me and was surprised at the amount of information this site reveals about common products and their ingredients that we use in our daily lives. Many products, particularly from leading and popular brands have all been flagged as unsafe, health damaging and severely carcinogenic.

The site is a must-visit. You can not only get information on the damaging ingredients in each of the product that you use but also search for safe products. For e.g to search for safe shampoos just enter the word shampoo into the search field and click "search". You can search by company name, product name, company or ingredient.

I was surprised to see so many of Amway's Artistry range of cosmetics, one that the Amway claims to be in the World top 5 cosmetic brands of the world, flagged as moderately hazardous to extremely hazardous.

By the way from my own experience if you were to use the Amway Satinique Advanced Dandruff Control Conditioning Shampoo let me warn you that you will lose a lot of hair from your scalp. Make sure you never use it on children. So strong are the ingredients (contorary to Amway's claims) that even a diluted drop of this shampoo in your eyes is enough to cause painful burning in adults.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Here a slum, there a slum, everywhere a slum slum...

First comes the sick movie that took everyone by surprise or should I say everyone for a ride. And when people are just beginning to have enough of the movie comes them media overflowing with reports of slums and people in the slums in the newspapers, magazines, T.V, Radio the Internet and et all. I am afraid many people outside India and who know little about India are going to be misled by these "slum" reports.

As Yogananda Paramahansa writes in his books India was the richest country in the world till the 15'th century until the foreigners arrived via trade, conquests and later colonization. Even today India is a rich country considering how it feeds its over-one-billion human population and domestic animal population (including the world's biggest cow population) everyday, provides water for the essential activities of both man, animal and industry and manages the waste (human/animal/industrial) generated. Although there are many that live below the poverty line India is not a place full of slums.

Hardly a day passes when there is not a reference to the slum and its dwellers somewhere in the media these days. All because of some silly film that is going to do more damage to India than good. It has won Oscars, BAFTA's and other coveted awards for Indians who worked in the movie but what you see in "Slumdog Millionaire" is an exaggeration of the slums in India. The media had better stop their affinity with the slums. After all what good does it do to the slums anyway and to improve the life there.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's a shame this movie was completely ignored for the Oscars this year

First of all I am not sure if "Seven Pounds" is going to be considered for next years Oscars but if it was ignored for this year's Oscars then a big mistake has been made. I am actually at a loss for words for the brilliant movie this is. By all means don't miss this one. After all the romance that we have seen on screen all these years I am awestruck at directors who can still churn out such passionate and fresh romance as it is in Seven Pounds. I cannot imagine a movie as this being ignored considering the other movies that made it to the Oscars this year. Never miss it. Rosario Dawson and Will Smith deliver the performance of a lifetime. Other cast and crew do their parts well too.

(Picture courtesy of