Featured Posts

Wednesday, November 23

Emotions in Motion: Page II

Continuing from Part I list which featured a handful of personal favourite scenes from the long lost 'golden age' of Malayalam cinema. Taking a look at the films made outside Malluland, and as I said, films transcend barriers of language, culture and nationality because human emotions are the same everywhere. Apologies for not wandering into Tamil or Bengali film duniya, where I believe more quality films are being made than what our desi-Hollywood churns out. Reason: I don't watch much of them to fill-in a blog post.

Film: Halo
Year: 1996
Director: Santhosh Sivan
Cast: Benaf Dadachanji, Rajkumar Santhoshi
Scene: Sasha finds her Halo after much perseverance, with the whole of Mumbai city lining behind her. But then she encounters something which changes it all. Sasha leaves her puppy behind, the innocence and compassion of her young, brave and kind heart is evident in the closing shot of that honest, painful smile of hers. When Children's Movies are losing relevance in our film industry, Santhosh Sivan's simplistic presentation of a butterfly-esque storyline shows why we need to focus more on kiddies films. As said before, there is nothing like a good film which can touch and influence our lives, and that of our kids.

Film: Dil Chahta Hai
Year: 2001
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta
Scene: Akash's moment of redemption. This clip summarizes the philosophy of Dil Chahta Hai. Akash, realizing he has been horribly wrong about relationships in life, tries to speak to Sameer to relieve his heavy heart. But his subconscious, overwhelmed by the guilt from his past act against Sid, dials Sid's number instead. The once-obnoxious and  ever-resilient Akash breaks down, feeling terribly lonely and remorseful, realises what he has done, and what he has been missing. Akash flies back home to straighten his broken and tangled ties, also to get back what he knew meant most to him at that point of time: the woman he loves.

PS: Equally riveting is the climactic sequence when the trio meets again in the Hospital. The "just turn around" scene brought tears to the eyes, ironically to the male audiences, a telltale sign of how well connected the movie has been with the 'rougher' sex in exploiting their strange emotional sensitivity, or lack of it?

Film: Kabhi haan kabhi naa
Year: 1993
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, Nasseruddin Shah
Scene: Chris's and Anna's wedding scene. Shah Rukh Khan's best performance to date by miles, before his transformation from Shah Rukh Khan to SRK. This feel-good movie against the backdrop of Goa and its culture portrays a class of Bollywood movies which have totally become extinct. Khan's expression from 0.55s to 1.14s proves that the man can indeed act! Ironically, Shah Rukh is the lone character in the film who portrays tinges of negativity in his role amongst a make-merry society pictured in the film.

Film: Munna Bhai MBBS
Year: 2003
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Dutt, Boman Irani
Scene: Dr. Astana clinically exhumes Munna Prasad Sharma's play-act. This emotionally charged up scene has acclaimed performances from the Dutt family, Boman Irani. Munna Bhai MBBS enters the Bollywood hall-of-fame because the in-charge guys got the script right. The dew-drops of humour always laced within the realms of those reels, even in the draining scene below, made this film an all time hit, which propelled even bigger sequels.

Film: Sholay
Year: 1976
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Csat: Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan
Scene: Gabbar Singh's Russian Roulette. It was tough to pick one scene from a reel-full of memorable scenes from Sholay, India's evergreen wonder-movie. Gabbar Singh's intro sequence is picked just for its cold, pulsating, anything-can-happen-anytime feel about it and the ruthless way the villain's psychotic traits are exposed to the audience. Amjad Khan, Amitabh and Sanjeev Kumar's legendary characters and the hip-hop dialogues made Sholay what it is today. The movie itself kicked started a formula in Hindi film industry, a hero-villain-revenge plot, which ruled our screens for decades before the triangle love stories completely took over.

Film: Mr India
Year: 1987
Director: Shekhar Kapoor
Casr: Anil Kapoor, Sreedevi
Scene: Sreedevi's famous wet saree song. All this ado for just a song? Rain-Saree erotica wasn't exhibited for the first time on celluloid but "kaate nahi katte" created a template for sensualitica for Bollywood and other language films. The voluptuous figurine of the super-gorgeous Sreedevi in the plain peacock-blue satin saree skipped many a heartbeats, including yours truly's. (Now you know why this one got 'special' ;-])This bona fide superhero movie featured the late Mr. Amrish Puri as the evil blonde villain Mogambo. His punchline "Mogambo khush hua" still lingers around in our movie reels. RIP Amrish Puri,one of the best 'specialist' villains in Indian Cinema.

Film: Company
Year: 2002
Director: RamGopal Varma
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, Mohanlal
Scene: Malik meets Sreenivasan. Mohanlal illustrates his acting skills in the most meticulous way in the RGV thriller in this short, high-voltage scene. The heavy, uneasy air is cut only by the ridiculous ease with which Mohanlal performed by enacting a real-life character, delivering the dialogues and playing with the paper-weight at the same time (which amazed co-actor Vivek Oberoi) and the cold, fearless character of Malik.

Film: Swades
Year: 2004
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayathri Joshi
Scene: The boy with the water-pot at the Railway Station. This is as best and realistic as Bollywood and SRK could get. The suave Jaguar-driving NASA nerd gets to understand the ocean between the privileged and the under-privileged. On way back after aching rendezvous with the outcast, defaulted peasant, Mohan encounters the boy who sells water for 25p on the desolate Railway Station. The scene where the boy counts the pennies he earned while the train leaves him behind has been pretty realistically picturised without the melodrama of Bollywood. AR Rahman's background score adds flavour to the scene.

To be concluded in Part III, and you guessed it right. Odes from my personal collection of World Cinema, not just from Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 1

Santhosh Pandit Phenomenon: Pun Unintended

Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector.

- The Noble Quran 2:286 

Doordarshan in the early 90's had aired a short but extremely popular satiric comedy series called Flop Show. The extremely well-made show featured Jaspal Bhatti and his characteristic intentional self-mockery. The attributes of the show were evident from the fact that the title credits rolled out under headers "Misdirection", "Over-acting", "Underground Singers", "Hair-Spoiler", "Graphic Defects" and so on.

The individual we're going to read about here has a notable trait of the Jaspal Bhatti show. He has created something which fits perfectly into all those titles Mr.Bhatti had created. Only that the pun here is largely unintended. Yeah,we're going to discuss about the phenomenon, Messrs Santhosh Pandit.

I'm pretty confident that 3.5 crore Malayalees are now familiar with the name 'Santhosh Pandit', who've descended on us via www, grew in stature thanks to the ubiquitous social media, and conquered our Newspapers, News & Entertainment Channels and lastly the cinema theaters, a glowing case-study to what the new-age social media can do to/for you.(Also a case study for Clinical Psychologists and Management students)

In the delirious aftermath of the release of Krishnanum Radhayum and the phenomenal cult-following & theatricality, one begs to answer this riddle: How, why and what the...?

Krishnanum Radhyum is a very amateur 'film' (if you can call you that), from a very very amateuristic wannabe film-maker with an even immature, rare and confusing personality traits, on a shoe-string budget. It's unintentional self-mockery at its best, the art of film-making at its worst.

There is hardly anyone left who hasn't exploited the strange behavioural aspects of this young 'lost' man. The media houses, 'bourgois' film-makers and social media geeks find their own ways to mock and ridicule this avatar, Malayala Manorama taking the matter to pathetic lows. I too plead guilty, for I'm using my blog and Twitter to get some free-thoughts in on this spectacle.

Happened to watch one interview on Reporter Channel the other day. Ironically, Santhosh Pandit managed to shut out even seasoned reporter Nikesh Kumar. Not just Nikesh, all seasoned interviewers and presenters have been overwhelmingly vanquished by the Santhosh Express.

Nevertheless, one thing strikes me: This guy still doesn't get it, does he? I'm certain he'll never get it.

"This film has created a wave  just like 'Subrahmanyapuram' created in TN".

"No one has the right to criticize me. I did 18 works, even Balachandra Menon did only 4-5 works" 

"Current film makers feel threatened by me. They're attempting to create a ruckus by deliberately creating a negative opinion"

Awesome. There lies the basic character of this guy. He is all too confident and proud of his talent, creativity and novelty. The problem is; only he does. Someone said on TV that this is a case of "Narcissistic Personality Disorder". Difficult to argue, there IS evident deviancy.

Saying that, I mean talking about this pride and confidence, these are the same attributes which Ranji Panicker had when he wrote "Praja", Thambi Kannanthanam had when he directed "Onnaman", and Ram Gopal Varma had when he created "RGV ki Aag". I'm not mentioning the quality of the never-ending mega-serials, especially the erstwhile sops from Madhu Mohan, JK, Ananthapuri and co, we were forced to watch before the dawn of Satellite TV. So Santhosh Pandit can be forgiven for feeling good about it. At least he has lived upto his reputation.

An industry which has become some sort of a graveyard for newcomers, Pandit has given role to 100+ newcomers. Although the fact may be that most of them may not be proudly typing Krishnanum Radhayum on their Curriculum Vitae.

I sincerely hope  this won't become a parallel cinema for Malluland. Even if it does, there wont be much degradation in quality. After years of stagnation we're getting to see some new life back in Malluwood. Some seriously fresh themes and actors have come forward to treat the rust slowly evading out industry. Pandit, definitely, is NOT among them but still his success and the debates it kicked off may prompt  some bigwigs to do a self-assessment. Them pointing a finger at Pandit would surely mean the old saying of 3 pointing back at themselves.

Channels and newspapers competed top get this phenomenon aired to improve their TRP and buy a chunk of this internet sensation. In Tamil, a sort of a sensation came and went, called Sam Anderson and his film "Yaarukku Yaaro" which sorta created a benchmark for mock fan following. Nothing as epic as Krishnanum Radhayum though :P

"Yaarukku Yaaro" full film here. (Read disclaimer before clicking the link)

Youth of malluland who thronged the theaters NEVER expected a Dasharadham on screen. This is cartoon, sans the graphics. Call it mock-porn. They've got their 3 hours of non-stop entertainment, don't ask me which way, but still it's full-time enjoyment our mainstream film-makers hardly manage to give us. Let's not talk about the artistic value of the movies we've been receiving in the last one-and-half-decade.

The hard truth is that we're now in a transitional phase where the Gold Standards set by Padmarajan, Lohithadas, MT, Aravindaan, Bharathan have long deserted us, and this is the lowest one could get. We've ceased to make classics, and we can't even create Parody Films mocking the way our Superstars and their 'support' staff get about their job.

Parody Films are serious work of art which sometimes get critical acclaim. They have an intention. Krishnanum Radhayum differs from mainstream parody movies in that it is 'serious'. Except for the comedy scenes, Pandit never for a moment intended mockery, as this has turned out to be. Leave it as it is, but genuine Mockbusters are one area Malluwood ought to explore more to bring some audience interest back. Am I the only one seeing a gold pot here, giving the existing drama and flop-shows going on in the industry?

There has been one "Thamizh Padam" created across the Ghats which won accolades for the way a few new comers dared to mock the contemporary style and theme of film-making.

The one positive out of all this, except for financial success and fame for Santhosh, must be that this may make some serious, talented, original film-lovers 'who know their abilities and limitations', to come forward into out dried out film-scape and hit some random oasis. Parallel film could blossom outside the devilish clutches of a few 'stars' and their cronies. No need to lick the boots of the bigwigs; if you're sure you have it in you, then go for it. At worst, you'll still turn out something much better than Santhosh Pandit. #win-win

Make no mistake about it, many film-makers have turned legends by taking the first step the hard way, without any Godfathers. Christopher Nolan made his first movie 'Following' for a mearge $6000, using the cheaper Black & White reels, working only on weekends when his friends were off work. Nolan learned about film-making for years, carefully planned his debut film by doing most of the works like script, editing & camera. 'Following' was the stepping-stone for Nolan onto movie-magics such as Memento, Dark Knight etc.

If this Pandit phenomenon inspires new talent who're aware of their strengths and weaknesses, to come forward into our industry, then this could be one lone but big positive out of all this.

One thing we need not do is waste more time on our man, he'll continue to 'entertain' us with more tomfoolery. The Internet and social media will do it's job, but when our accredited news channels take up the job to publicly and intentionally mock and insult this man, that is where things cross the mark.

This is a great cause of itch for serious-minded people and film industry experts but that's a general principle: Mayhem in order always gets attention. I've enjoyed every bit of it. Now that the hype is almost over, our 'serious' media houses can gather their thinking hats on and re-assess weather this passing shower needs more coverage.

 All because his tagline appears to be:

"Love me or hate me, you just can't ignore me!"


Tuesday, September 20

Emotions in motion: Page I

Exceptional creations of art have one feature in common: they stand the test of time. Their beauty and value multiplies over time, providing sheer delight to those who can appreciate the finesse. Movies touch our lives like no other medium of entertainment; the tales and emotions packed into those reels cut a chord with the real life of the audience. I present my personal choice of a few highly artistic moments from some unforgettable movies in Malayalam language over the past few decades which still continue to touch and thrill our senses.

Film: Namukku parkkan munthirithoppukal
Year: 1986
Director: Padmarajan
Cast: Mohanlal, Thilakan, Shaari
Scene: Climax. Solomon returns for Sofia. He honks twice but Sofia doesn't come out as promised. Solomon breaks into the property, anticipating the scuffle with Sofia's evil step-dad, who has already violated Sofia and has no better plans for Solomon. But Solomon overwhelms the man and carries his girl away. The lorry, which is a strong, persistent character in the movie, disappears into the hazy-dark dawn taking the couple to their vineyard haven where Solomon has promised his love for Sofia. Unforgettable finale to the most charismatic love story ever told in Malayalam.

NB: Padmarajan, apparently, was a touch sceptical about how the audience would receive the climax where the hero goes off with a despoiled woman. Cameraman Venu, who ferociously argued in favour of it said he wouldn't be doing the movie if the climax was altered. Pappettan had to succumb!

Film: Thoovanathumbikal
Year: 1987
Direcotr: Padmarajan
Cast: Mohanlal, Sumalatha
Scene: Climax. Clara agrees to see Jayan one last time. Neglecting his fiancee's (Radha) staunch warning, he goes to the Railway Station to bid adieu to the woman who taught him the first lessons in love, subconsciously relegating his guilt for causing her lose her virginity. Jayan and Clara meets and parts, being anxiously watched by Radha from a distance. Padmarajan wove this sensitive and explosive theme so aesthetically that Thoovanathumbikal is still very much a family film; no stigma attached. We miss you Pappetta!

Film: Innale
Year: 1989
Director: Padmarajan
Cast: Shobhana, Jayaram, Suresh Gopi
Scene: Climax: Suresh Gopi's heart-wrenching cameo stole the show. Narendran comes in search for 'Maya', something Appu always feared deep down his heart. Maya welcomes Narendran into the house, not knowing he is her husband from the 'erased' past. Appu senses that he may lose Maya, steals some time off during the meeting to share some intimate moments with her. A heart-broken Narendran leaves without revealing the truth, accepting that he has no presence in her present. Title credits roll on as the car leaves the meadows obliterating the last possible connection from Maya's long lost past.

Film: Nokkethadoorathu Kannum nattu
Year: 1984
Director: Fazil
Cast: Padmini, Nadia Moythu, Mohanlal
Scene: Climax: Kunjoonjamma drugs Girlie to sleep, her final few moments in that house. She is taken away by the Ambulance personnel as Sreekumar brings her belongings down. Mohanlal shows his brilliance in that short sequence but its about Padmini's Kunjoojamma all the way. This sequence was devoid of Fazil's occasional burst of melodrama which did enhance the melancholic scene but the climax is an outright winner. Girlie is carried away to meet her almost certain fate but Kunjoojamma fixes the call bell back on the portico hoping that someday Girlie will return to use it.

Film: Manichitrathazhu
Year: 1993
Director: Fazil
Cast: Shobhana, Suresh Gopi, Mohanlal
Scene: Ganga transforms into Nagavalli. Egged on by Dr. Sunny, Nakulan approaches Ganga, still not convinced about his wife's severe and dangerous psychiatric condition. Nakulan enacts the pre-written script to intimidate Ganga into revealing her darker twin-personae much to his astonishment. This National Award winning performance by Shobhana is backed up by the superlative dubbing by Bhagyalakshmi and exceptional screenplay and direction.

Film: Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha
Year: 1989
Director: Hariharan
Cast: Mammooty, Suresh Gopi, Madhavi
Scene: The end of Chathiyan Chandu. Mammooty's National Award winning performance provides impossible perfection to a once-in-a-lifetime MT script. The impeccable portrait of Chandu and exceptional dialogue delivery by Mammooty have made this movie a timeless masterpiece.

Film: Kireedam
Year: 1989
Director: Sibi Malayil
Cast: Mohanlal, Thilakan
Scene: The making of Sethumadhavan. Mohanlal's portrait of an unforgettable Lohitadas's character gave rise to one of the most emotionally draining climaxes ever in Malayalam film history. The film and character had been so popular that it was remade into many languages but none could match the way Lal gave life to the volatile and tragic metamorphosis of Sethumadavan.

Film: Sandesham
Year: 1991
Director: Satyan Anthikkad
Cast: Thilakan, Jayaram, Sreenivasan
Scene: The famous 'Poland' scene. A mirror to contemporary Kerala political situation, this extremely simplified and satiric classic is increasingly becoming relevant, food for thought even during present times. Sreenivasan's best script to date, Sandesham's social angles and philosophies join to scribble a rejoinder to the severely marginalized and mostly concurrent Kerala political scenario.Talk about realistic movies with a strong message!

Films transcend the barriers of language and culture in depicting and exploring human emotions and behaviour. Part II of this post will feature my favourite scenes from beyond Malayalam and Indian cinema.


Monday, August 15

Independence Day Greetings!

The lady we love most is 64 today!

Still she is young, exuberant, poignant and versatile. Young, though she has a proud, priceless tradition of over a thousand years, but the aura of spiritual enlightenment still keeps in check the values she beholds when the new era surges at breakneck speed.

At 64, curiously, she exhibits the issues of an adolescent teenager than a world-wise mother. Blame it on the years preceding the 64, if you like, but past seldom solves today's issues.

At 64, the caricature is different from different angles...These snapshots if made into a collage may present us with a frozen-frame-in-time of the present day India.

with astounding cultural and traditional heritage

with the uncanny ability to spring back instantly from cruel, sleazy back-stabbings

the citizens, whose knowledge and skills are much valued at home and abroad

and whose ideas and achievements make us proud like no other

but yet can't dismantle the concretely set stereotypes of self

whose problems are much more than a handful of individuals

fuelled by an excruciatingly ineffective, uninspirational, uncharacteristic leadership

where no pillars of democracy have so far been effective in taming the menace

where solutions themselves become bigger problems

But we have faces which could hide any tears behind those radiant eyes and honest hearts

and people who could inspire millions, if not billions..and nations and continents

to keep the spirit of this nation afloat in viscous, non-buoyant waters

As long as there's HOPE left in Pandora's box, we will keep smiling

and we will rejoice that August 15th 1947 happened!


Sunday, July 31

Google Earth Kerala: Charting the change

Google Earth has been progressively updating the eagle's eye view of Indian subcontinent. Being a travel and places buff, an enthusiast for urbanity, development and dynamics, I've found it pretty fascinating. Take a look and see the dynamics from the heavens.

Full and continuous updating of new Google Earth imagery is right here on this thread of Urban and Architectural Forum Skyscrapercity Forum. Go on, click and it will open in a new tab ---> Kerala towns and cities: Google Earth. Do sit back and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Trivandrum NH Bypass in 2005, and at present. Pictures tell the tale, highrises are comprehensively edging out coconut tree-tops along this stretch.

Technopark fringes. The 150hp engine behind Trivandrum's surge forward surely does exhibit the graphic metamorphosis of the once quaint suburb.

Phase III of Technopark has erased the greenery along the NH Bypass. Necessary evil of progress. But all for good.

Massive Software Campuses of Infosys and UST Global rising side-by-side. And in 2016 this frame will be completely filled by some iconic modern structures.

City dynamics. Pattom Junction. The erstwhile Gateway to the city is now a thriving downtown area. Numerous apartments and commercial complexes stand testimony to this.

Cochin. Kakkanad. Infopark.You know it all! The massive Wipro Software Development Campus fills the frame.

Panampally Nagar, Cochin. The premiere residential enclave is almost a concrete Amazon!

Green makes way to cleared, brown patches of land, then transformed into highrise shelters. Cochin vista continues...

Vallarpadam Container Terminal taking shape in 2005, followed by the finished product in 2011.

Marine Drive (Extension). Kerala's most premium waterfront address taking shape in 2005, and the present state. New bridges to the western archipelago and the waterfront boulevard connecting the North-western fringes of the city are ready now.

New apartments fill the waterfront montage on Marine Drive (Shanmugham Road) , Cochin.

The islands on Cochin backwaters have transformed since getting connected to the mainland. Vallarpadam Terminal and the Petronet LNG Complex seen here.

Kannur. Even smaller Kerala towns haven't shied away from embracing highrise culture. First image from early 2006.

Payyambalam Beach front, Kannur. Highrises propping up here and there making way for another gorgeous residential setting.

Lot more images are there in the Skyscrapercity link above. Do bookmark for continued and thorough updates from the members. Always thanks to M/s Google! :)

On way just have a look at the development showcased below. Let's look in an anachronic manner on this one, I'll show you how Hyderababd International Airport looks from above.

And this is how the placed looked in 2005. Oye!

Perhaps the most impressive and landmark model development must be the Sabarmati Riverfront Development in Ahmedabad. The administrators of Gujrat's commercial capital have drastically changed the way River Sabarmati was viewed by the citizens. Kudos to the Gujrat Government. These sets of images prove my point.

The set of Google Earth images chart the rebirth of Sabarmati, which was another stagnant, clogged urban chokeway in 2007, but has now metamorphosed into the free-flowing bluewaters in 2011.

This will make matters more clear... Sabarmati in 2007

and in 2011

For decades, we, down in Trivandrum, have been shouting and begging for our TS Canal to be cleansed, made navigable and to turn the historic waterway into a waterfront haven for Trivandrum. Apart from ourselves developing sore throats, nothing has happened so far. There is no dearth of projects but there is one crucial difference. It stays put on paper.

One of my old photo-blogs depicts this sorry tale. Please do take a look >>  TS Canal: A passage through time (Link opens in a new tab)

Those who think such developments aren't possible in Kerala, think again. If Gujarat could turn the clogged and dead Sabarmati into a world-class waterfront boulevard then why we cant we do the same? The funds we received for it as part of National Waterway III were allowed to lapse. Criminal! Surely we're missing something the Gujjus have in plenty.

It's called will-power.