Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A question(able?) post

I am sick and tired of hearing about astrologers and horoscopes. Really sick. I don't blame those who practice the profession of astrology alone. I blame myself and millions like me who really can't take a stand on the issue. I can't stand up boldly and say, "Hey, I don't believe you can predict the future. You're a bogus". Neither can I surrender completely and say, "Hey, you are so right. I believe you completely".

It does seem odd to completely give in to a stranger's prediction of my "supposed" future and take decisions based on it. What if he's wrong? What if I make a decision based on it and then it fails completely? Would I blame myself then? Or the astrologer? Do we believe in astrology to feel re-assured about our future? Can someone really "see" the future so certainly? If he sees the future so certainly, isn't he supposed to be God? Well, what's the purpose of God or any actions that we perform in everyday life if everything's already pre-determined? Besides, if one's karma is so strong and we can't really escape it, why bother evading it using astrology?

In short, I've decided that "predicting" the future is a crime and astrologers as a profession should be banned. I think its better to just do what your heart tells you and consequences be damned. If that turns out to be wrong, hey, at least its your own, patented mistake - not some astrologer's. I meant for this post to be a more coherent, meaningful discussion on the truth/falsity of astrology. But I guess what turned it out to be is a confused set of questions...:) Maybe that's exactly what astrology is - a confused set of questionable practices.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

A gift of the gods..

The other day a friend and I were discussing playback singers. Some singers are great because they've honed and literally chiseled their voices over the years with hardwork and practice. Today, their voices are like honey maple syrup over pancakes (Yeah, I made that up. Its breakfast time and I can only think of food)! Example: SPB, Hariharan.

But some people are just born with killer voices. Voices that are just rich in cadence and timbre, that can just hit any high note with ease, that can simply twirl and swirl to the whims of the singer. Just listening to them, you know that this is something they were born with! You just can't achieve that kind of a voice through any amount of practice. Example: Shankar Mahadevan, A.R. Rahman, T.R. Mahalingam, K.B. Sundarambal

I was listening to Shankar Mahadevan sing "Rangola hola.." from Gajini. I simply loved the way he has sung this song. Similarly, I love "Kumari.." from Anniyan and "Merke Merke.." from Kanda Naal Mudhal. I've become a total Shankar Mahadevan convert..:)

A.R. Rahman has come a long way from his "Urvasi.." days. Listening to him in "New York Nagaram.." and "Tere Bina.." (Guru), his range just amazes me. I'd thought earlier that maybe he used some kind of audio pyrotechnics to help his voice sound like it did. But, when he performed live at Dayton in June, he effortlessly sang "Dil Se re..." at exactly the same range as the audio recording. I was blown away..!

I watched "Raja raja chozhan" (Cast: Sivaji, Lakshmi, Sivakumar, Muthuraman et al) last weekend and there's this song "Thanjai periya kovil vaazhga". T.R. Mahalingam simply made my jaw drop in one of the sequences of that song. That dude sure had a voice that could beat even Rahman today! He was probably singing somewhere at 4 kattai (sruthi) and he was doing vocal gymnastics at that scale! I know how much I struggle to sing at 6.5 which is considered ordinary for today's female playback singers. Made me envious..sigh.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Soft corners

I ran into an old Asan Memorial school-mate of mine in Orkut. I had a crush on him while in school ( yeah, yeah, that was a really long time back when I was in 6th grade). It was actually a kind of collective crush. A lot of my friends traveled via the school bus. And he traveled via Pallavan. We used to lean out the window and giggle whenever we passed the busstop where we was waiting for his bus... :-) Our day was made if he turned around and gave us a smile. Thinking back, I think he must've thought - "Oh, what a bunch of cute kids!" - which is really not what we hoped for but then ignorance was bliss.

He was 6 years our senior. We never found out his name until after he graduated from school. We heard that he wasn't exactly, err - pleasant company. None of it mattered. We were just having giggly, girly fun!

The funny thing is I still have a soft corner for him. All these years past and I still giggled when I saw his profile pic in Orkut. He is still cute and I am not in love with him. But I wonder if we always carry around soft corners in our hearts for our past crushes, loves, flames etc... There's nothing like completely erasing these hidden shadows from the past! I find it really weird when I read about stories of intense love turning into intense hate or psycho-like behaviour. How can you ever dislike someone you once liked? Isn't it like disliking a part of yourself?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Hero's name is "Valluvan" the Vallavan. He becomes "Pallan" because he decides that being ugly, clumsy and annoying will impress Nayantara. Idhu enna logic?? Adhu Simbu-kku mattum dhaan puriyum nu ninaikkiren. He does do a good job of acting like "Kalyanaraman" Kamalhassan including dancing to the remixed number "Aaha Vandhurichu". But why this is essential to the main plot beats me! He spouts a few chauvinistic, pyscho dialogues from time to time and turns around and says:

"Ippadi ellam naan sollalaam..aana naan solla matten yennaa...blah blah.."

Mr. Simbu, ippo dhaane idhellam sonna? Apram enna solla matten-nu oru dialogue? He has some wonderful, logic-less scenes all over the place in the movie.

Reema Sen looks awful without make-up. But she has done an excellent job of acting like a pyscho. I, personally, liked her performance. Nayantara seriously stinks big time! Yuck.

Simbu, for all his self-generated hype, fails to give a hit. I saw one of his press releases where he praised this movie to the skies. Romba dhaan nenappu!

Music stinks. One question for the music director: Why in the world is there a kuttichathan, pisasu type laughter in the background each time Reema Sen is shown? Surely, this is no Vittalacharya movie. To add to the misery, Simbu croons a couple of numbers. He isn't a bad singer but then, his abilities are limited and it shows in the compositions. There's too many finger swishing, whoosh-whoosh sounds.

The cameraman seems to have gone haywire. My head started spinning after watching 30 mins of the movie. Lots of zooming, rotating,back and forth shots etc... Makes the viewer annoyed rather than entertained.

Jillunu oru Kadhal:

Contrary to reviews, I liked this movie. Jo-Surya chemistry sizzles on screen. The acting is natural and flows. A rather improbable plot but I thought it was decently picturized. Bhoomika's transformation from the first to second halves seems rather unreal and startling. The girl who acts as Jo's daughter does an excellent job! Of course, music pathi edhuvume solla was superb!

I thought it was a decent watch.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Overheard in the Restroom...

We, the people, need to talk. Talk, talk, talk. These days, we can't even resist responding to restroom vandalism. Although, I did it find it very amusing..:) Scribbled on a cubicle cube:

Some poor soul in need of help: This is a cry for help!
Some vetti person:                        Not a very good one at that, if you're scribbling in restrooms! :)

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Addendum to my last post...

Well, I've had quite a few people disagreeing with my last post. But just to clarify a few things:

- I am not against singing Telugu or Sanskrit songs. I can and I do sing a lot of Telugu krithis.
- I am not a languaget fundamentalist who is maniacally in favor of the mother tongue..:)
- The legacy of the Trinity needs to be preserved for posterity.
- Tamizh speaks to me more than any other language. But hey, that's just me!
- I believe music is a mix of intricate handling of swarasthanas in a Ragam + bhavam + bhakthi. I am NOT speaking in favour of words alone as opposed to a raga.
- Understanding the lyrics and meaning of a song helps me focus more on the bhakthi underneath it. There are people who can just hang on to the raga bhavam and not worry about lyrics, meaning etc... When you reach that level of devotion, obviously everything is rather trivial! I am one of those that has not reached that level of consciousness yet..:) So the lyrics AND their meaning matter to me to help me be focused.
- And lastly, there's no excuse for people who mangle the sahithyam because of their lack of language skills. You can cry yourself hoarse about how only the ragam, bhavam etc..matter. But hey, there needs to be some respect to the composer.

It is "bhaasura/mukha/ kari/ rajuni /brochina/ vaasudevudavu /neevu/ kaadha"

NOT - "aasura mukhakari rajuni brochina vaasude neevukadha"

Anyways, the opinions expressed are solely as they pertain to I, Me and Myself...! :)

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Friday, November 03, 2006

A musical introspection...

Minister Duraimurugan has made a comment that there should be more Carnatic songs in Tamizh. I agree with him partly.

When I was a kid, my parents put me through Carnatic music lessons. My daily commute from Kodambakkam to my school took me 2-3 hours by schoolbus. The driver used to wander all over town before he reached school and ditto on the return trip. When I reached home around 5.30 PM, I'd find my music teacher waiting for me. To my eyes, she used to be the very devil who prevented me from eating and made me shout at the top of my lungs for 2 hours! I'd have a glass of coffee and start singing.

I don't remember anyone having ever explained to me the meaning behind having sarali varisai, jantai varisai, alankarams ,ragam, thalam etc...Don't get me wrong, my teacher was an excellent one. But I was the rambunctious kid that wanted explanations for everything. So, there I was - singing in some unknown language (Telugu, mostly) sans the meaning, without knowing the raga bhavam or the history behind the song. Besides, I didn't have any peers at school who were learning music. Or let's just say, I didn't know anyone who did and we never talked about music much. Film music was much more catchy and interesting and I understood the meaning of the lyrics (for good or for bad!). We used to discuss it on the schoolbus and the lyrics being in Tamizh did help. I don't find it strange that I gave up carnatic music when the opportunity first presented itself to me! It had no meaning to me.

We moved from Chennai to Madurai and my father kept pushing me to take music lessons,

"Child, you'll regret it later. Learn to sing."

I was reluctant. I didn't want to scream at the top of my lungs on an empty stomach again in some unknown language blah blah blah...

But my parents used to listen to a lot of carnatic music. One fine day, I ended up listening to the Late Maharajapuram Santhanam. It was a collection of "Oothukkadu Venkatasubbaier" kritis on Krishna sung live on Janmashtami. I was mesmerized. The voice, the ragas and the bhavam in his singing held me spellbound. For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of the songs because they were in Tamizh instead of Telugu. It kindled my interest in music again and I started listening to more and more music. I learnt "Mohana rama" on my own with a vengeance just because Shri Santhanam had rendered it so beautifully! I think my teacher would've been happy if I'd applied myself with half the interest I showed in learning this song. :)

Anyways, many, many years later, I feel that now I have a better sense of appreciation for carnatic music than I did as a kid. I understand certain nuances that I didn't earlier. Its not like I am much more knowledgeable now. Maybe, age tempers you with experiences and stress that you realize the soothing quality of music? I don't know. But I completely agree with Suhasini's Sindhu in "Sindhubhairavi":

"Kavalai edhumilla rasikkum mettukudi
Cherikkum sera venum, adhukkum paattupadi
Enniye paaru, ethanai peru
thangame neeyum tamizh paattum paadu.."

[The rich don't have any worries and they enjoy music. But your music should also reach the poor masses. Think about how many people are out there. Thangame, please sing Tamizh songs also...]

Even today, when I sing a Papanasam Sivan krithi in Tamizh, I enjoy it much more than I do a Tyagaraja krithi. A while back, someone asked me to translate my Tamil blog on "Akhilandeswari" to English. I sincerely tried it for two days but I couldn't find the words in English! But when I thought about the same topic in Tamizh, I felt like I could write 10 more pages about it. Sigh. There's something about the mother tongue. Maybe I'd have continued music lessons if my teacher had taught me more Tamil krithis? :)

Regardless of how many foreign languages one is fluent in, the mother tongue will always rule the roost!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why, oh, why...

NY carries this article on working moms. The poor things are converting business trips into time to relax and recuperate. I personally know a lot of working moms who have had to compromise on career to have motherhood.

Read an article that said Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disease solely brought about by stress and that women are more susceptible to it. Breast cancer. Periods. Hormonal changes. Pregnancy and associated physical discomforts. Compromises, compromises, compromises.Too many emotions. Too much thinking. Sigh.

Wonder why men have it all easy and why anyone would want to be born a woman again....sigh.