Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is art alive in India?

India must have once been a land where art and architecture, science and commerce, spirituality and hospitality, lived in every mind at work. If not, how do you explain the Mysore Palace in all its grandeur and eye for details, built years ago?

The intricate art work, the wooden carvings, stone sculptures, and the paintings tell us so much about the artistic talent prevalent in the olden days. There surely must have been an entire clan well-trained in the art work or may be there were people with in-born talent in art work on various media - Wood, Stone, Canvas, Wall, Metal and Fabric.

Makes me wonder - With almost no automation back then, how did people manage to build master pieces without a single blatant flaw? How did people manage to paint segments of a picture in multiple card board/canvas/wood sheets and fit these pieces into a complete beautiful picture on the ceiling of the palace? How do paintings as old as few hundred years stay fresh and alive till date? Has anyone in India patented the ivory art on wooden pieces?

Makes me wonder - How come today's wooden sofa sets with some much less intricate designs are not as perfect?

Just think : If we were to construct such a palace today ( assuming the money is just flowing in whenever you need) do you think we'll get such a perfection, even with the machines and design plan or whatever else you can possibly have? I think 'No' because in olden days people took pride in their work, were sincere than we can all imagine, cared for perfection, and were very honest.

It may not be practical to expect the same level of perfection and passion for art and architecture these days ( where is the drive for it?), but then it is sad that art and architecture talent is almost dying in India.... occasional art exhibitions and small scale art businesses in village are oases in today's city desert. There are some good talents in India, but they rarely get the attention and hence the encouragement to pursue it further.

Most of us Indians, are ready to pay sky-high price for a dress ( would take fifteen minutes in all to cut, stitch and pack) at Lifestyle, but never willing to buy an art piece without bargaining on the well-deserved price.

Why?

Have we lost taste and interest for art? Or are we too bothered about the worth of the purchase? Is art still alive in India as much as it was in olden days? Can't say...

Is art and architecture supposed to be captured only in cameras and history text books? Is there any way we can get back to the artistic mode again? Will that help bring in some long lost niceties in us and some forgotten culture back to India..? Don't know... but worth a thought I would say...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Abhiyum Naanum...

Abhiyum Naanum (அபியும் நானும்) is the recent clean movie that has hit the screens. The movie begins in a park where a young father is playing with his daughter. He meets an old man and they strike up a conversation, the common subject being parenting. The old father recalls little joys and some lovely moments in his life, as the father of a very sensible girl.

Since this is a very recent movie, I am not getting into the script of the movie. If you are a young father, you'd love to walk with the movie. If you are an old father, you'll agree about few things and won't agree with most others. If you are a son, you may not really appreciate the movie, unless you want to understand parenting.


The movie portrays the affection between a father and daughter. Right from the day the kid is born, till she gets married, director Radha Mohan has chosen some very common, very simple incidents that can make wonderful memories for any father. The father Prakashraj's affection for the child is crazy and easy to imagine. There are some really cinematic shots, but we'll end up giving credit to the script writer's imagination. The daughter Trisha adores the father, but it is surprising that she does not let him know about her love for Joginder, a Punjabi economist. Aishwarya plays the Mother character, who is very practical in all situations.

Radha Mohan deserves appreciation for the simple reason that the movie is clear off item numbers, inappropriate dialogues, obscene language, worthless jokes, over-acted stunts, random fire shot, murders, bloodshed, deaths, and other harsh realities that usually get woven into the movie script.

Abhiyum Naanum has been pictured in Ooty. Some shots in the hill station's roads, a park, Coimbatore Airport and a hill top villa are the shooting spots in this movie. You really do not need to spend crores on imaginations that mandate you to take a flight to France or Rome or some Foreign land.. Preetha's photography is excellent.

Vidyasagar has done a good job on music, with Vairamuthu taking the crown for the lyrics. Some of the songs are good enough to be remembered in the years to come.

Prakashraj has done a good job as a father who simply cant say 'No' to the daughter.. Some of the shots were too dramatic and some very casual.. There is a touch of comedy in the seriousness of parenting... It is not to be taken as a futile attempt to infuse comedy into the movie, but a successful attempt to make the story sound light.. else this delicate subject of parenting can be a workshop full of sentimental tears...

Aishwarya is a nice choice for the mother's role.. The movie shows the situations when a mother is very practical and the only situation she is not able to handle - the daughter's wedding. Somehow fathers are very practical when it comes to seeing off the daughter with the groom while the mothers always feel so much when she waves off a bye to the girl.

Prithviraj, the young parent, Thalaivaasal Vijay and his wife, fit into the story well. The character named Ravi Shastri brought in a lot of sentiments, but I guess it was needed to show the lovable nature in the family.

The director has given thought to social responsibility as well in the scene where he brings together a lot of affected people as Joginder's family. Trisha's husband Jogi is a good choice, a thought very different from the rest of the movies.

Final take: Abhiyum Naanum - A beautiful and different painting, worth a watch.

If you are old enough to understand people and patient enough to spend time talking to people, then go ahead and make a booking for this movie, else you better not watch the movie.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Give and Take policy

In a conference, there are times you welcome a tea break.. It all depends on what kind of session you just came out of. On one of these welcome tea breaks, I was very busy chatting about random technical and non-technical subjects with a friend. This friend Mr.K, was one of the senior members in my professional community. His friend Mr.S, also a senior, joined us for a quick minute to talk about the quiz competition that was to be held that evening.

The quiz committee had told us to find our own team members for the session. Mr.S told Mr.K : "I want you to be my in my team, so I can, ... okay, so we can, win the contest ." [ Smiles all the time...]

Now, this is a very casual and simple statement between two friends.. alright.. but then if you look close enough, rather think a little, it will bring a very understanding smile to yourself.

How often have we actually told someone, I need you to be in my team for us to win? Very Very rare.... It takes us all generally a while to acknowledge and appreciate the other's strength. More often than not, we just decide to keep to ourselves in situations when we know we can seek help... just because we don't know to explicitly appreciate some one's strength and cant bring ourselves to ask for help.

Sure enough, Mr.S and Mr.K were in the same team and did manage a win :) The Give and Take policy won.

The strength that an appreciation gives, nothing else can possibly give. It is not just about this quiz and its win that I am talking about. Of course, the winning in the quiz is not the prime thing in life....In a larger scheme of things, appreciation does matter and brings a lot of rewards to you and the recipient..

Christmas is about ...

December is all about Winter and Christmas..

Christmas is all about care and share..
Christmas is all about prayers and wishes..
Christmas is all about colors, bright and beautiful. .
Christmas is all about cakes and sweets..
Christmas is all about chocolates and wine..
Christmas is all about presents and visits..
Christmas is all about love and people..

I guess most of us either know or agree with most of these....

Yesterday I happened to visit a friend. It was a Merry Christmas day in their lovely home...

I noticed love and care filled the air all the time.... its not very often you get to be in such company outside your own family... My friend's family had invited about four of us for lunch. They are five in the family. So, in all nine of us plus their birds and our maid who helped us all had a wonderful Christmas lunch..

Just think people... To cook for so many of us, a meal that satisfied every one's tastes on Christmas day - not forgetting the time spent in prayers, the decorations, the Christmas presents for the family, the visits to friends and relatives place to wish Christmas.. the talking with all of us, the table clearing, the kitchen cleaning, the fireworks and well, the 'and' list.. keeps going on..

It takes an extra nicety to be truly nice to guests. It takes an art to make your guest feel at home.. It seemed like everyone in my friend's family had it as an in-born nature to be nice to people.. It is a must-learn attitude for everyone.

If we have been fortunate to be in such an environment, I guess we have to be thankful for the chance and be nice to everyone..

If we have not had the chance, we should start by sending an invite once to people... at least to appreciate the fact that it is not easy to host a party...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To visit or not to visit

I met a friend, after what seemed like ages, on Google talk yesterday. It is Christmas vacation and I asked about vacation plans....

" I want to stay home, spend some quality time with my family, this vacation. " was the prompt response...

Now, if you know me enough, you surely understand that I would have been surprised beyond limits.... To think that a software personnel getting two weeks vacation like a school kid is in itself rare, and to think that someone actually wants to spend all that time at home is more than just 'RARE'...

I wanted to know the 'why' of it, then and there. So I asked " If not planning trips outside your town, are you not planning a few visits to your friends' places?" He said: " You should either be close enough to share work or your friend should have people to help with the arrangements for party, lunch or dinner...and not everyone you visit is comfortable with you helping out, and not every other house has someone to help with the arrangements and clearing up. In short, it is more of a causing the other person more trouble when you visit people in their houses".

There might be a thousand reasons for this decision that my friend chose to take, but the response I got made me think....

It is true that we need to be prepared to share work with the host or ensure that there is someone to get your host's house cleared up in time for the next week's morning work/school rush.

The next time you plan to visit someone, here are the points we could consider :

- Suggest that the host orders food from outside.
- If that does not work, offer to share work.
- Do not plan to cook exotic dishes if there are too many people around.
- The idea is to spend time together and not eat or drink like there is no tomorrow.
- If there are kids, let them do their bit for the party, so tomorrow when they have to host or take part, they'll know to host and to offer help.
- If your host has a baby, consider making your visits short.
- Even if it a party invite that you've got, and even if you are forced to think that it is your host's problem to clear the place, the least you can do is keep things in a decent order before you leave.
If that does not work, the best you can do is leave early, and let them work in peace.
- However tempting it does sound to stay on and continue talking or partying, remember that everyone has his priorities the next day.

If you are the host, do not expect any of these from your folks.. They are in your place to honor your invitation.. If you are the types who doesn't understand that after a party, it takes about a day or two for your house to function in routine, its best you don't host one. If you still have to, accept any help [major/minor]that you can get.

There is no point in creating an aftermath scene in the house that kills any interest to host another party.
There is also no point in making your host secretly say: This is the last invite I would send this person.

Merry Christmas :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram1

Vaaranam Aayiram, Soozha Valam Seidhu....( வாரணம் வாரணம் சூழ வலம் செய்து ...)
That's how a Thirupaavai ( திருப்பாவை ) hymn begins. The Thirupaavai is the set of hymns recited by this young girl Kodhai ( கோதை ) also known as Aandal Naaichiyaar (ஆண்டாள் நாச்சியார்) to praise the Lord Krishna. She lived in Srivilliputtur, South India. This town was her world and the temple of Lord Vishnu, her paradise. Her father Periyaazhvaar ( பெரியாழ்வார்) did not know that Aandal tried on the floral garland, that was meant to be offered to Lord Krishna, on herself once every day, before she offered it to God. Unless she is satisfied that the garland is perfect for her Krishna, she would not offer it. This is much against the usual practice where we dont offer flowers that we have tried on already to the God whereas the reverse practice is usually considered the norm. It is said, that one day, when Periyaazhvaar refused to take the already 'tried-on' garland and got a fresh one done for the diety in Srivilliputtur Temple, Lord Krishna appeared in his dreams to tell him that he missed Aandaal's garland that day.

This devotee sang the Thirupaavai in the name of Lord Krishna in the month of Maarghazhi ( மார்கழி ). Even today, every South Indian vaishnavite temple has theese verses resounding in the air in the early hours of 30 winter days. One of these verses begin with Vaaranam Aayiram... (வாரணம் ஆயிரம் ...). It means 'Herd of thousand elephants'... and the hymn goes on to talk about the Lord Vishnu with a herd of thousand elephants, whom Kodhai whole-heartedly loves and trusts and believes in.

I know what you are thinking.. How does our movie relate to the title?
The movie is about Surya, a Major - Indian Army, who had to fly out on a very important mission, while his father is very ill. The Army base calls him up to say that his father, Krishnan, is no more and if he can manage to continue with the mission. Surya says 'Yes' and tries not to lose control.. While trying hard to fight emotions, his mind launches off into a flash-back mode where he recollects everything about his life with his Dad. His school, sports, college, work, setting the financial position of his life right, first love, his visit to the US to meet his girlfriend, her pathetic loss, the disastrous turn of his behaviour, his father's illness, his success at the attempt to find a kidnapped child, his second girl friend, his interest in Army, his marriage and baby, and his last meeting with his father - all come as a slide show in his mind. He finishes an important rescue operation and heads home straight.

Later, his mom tells about this hymn Vaaranam aayiram... which implies....that her love for his father Krishnan is just like the love Kodhai had for Lord Krishna. Since he had grew up seeing this love and the affection that Krishnan had for his family, he must be able to lead a life, the way Krishnan would have liked him to, always... and that Life must go on whatever happens...and its time to smile.

That's about the story...

There is something about Gautham's movies and gunshots, army, police kind of a set up. All his movies so far with such pitches have been good because the focus was different. In this movie however, the focus was home and Dad, so the Army mission didn't really seem to fit in well... You know it already that our hero has to win the mission.. we surely know that the director would not have killed the hero in the story because Sameera, the first girl friend is dead already.. another murder in the story will be a devastating hit in the box office.. So you kind of knew that the mission was going to be a hit and that was never the focus of the movie anyways.

Quickies :
Could have done away with the Army mission.
Could have given some importance to the second girl friend in par with the first girl friend.
Music is awesome.
Direction is good, but surely could have been better.
Nice story line, but then the play somehow didn't match the title.
Could have had a different title.
Costumes for the hero Surya and Sameera are casual and good.
Costumes for the hero Krishnan ( Star, Surya here again)and Simran ( late 70's costumes) are a good attempt, but we have never ever seen them in such costumes before, so didn't quite seem to suit their frame, but the eye for detail there deserves applause.
Surya has done a good job. Career set for the star if a nice stage is given.

Final words: Slow, emotional, cool, interesting, brings a lot of smiles, musical and serious. Not a movie for a dull day to help you recharge.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zen Moment

I chanced to attend this very interesting session in one of the conferences yesterday that said, Look for the Zen moment always...

Ever seen a flower bloom?
Even seen one petal fall off a flower?
Ever watched the moment you understood a concept in class?
Ever kept tab of the moment you understood a joke?
Ever watched the flutter of a butterfly?
Ever taken time to watch the color of a sunrise change?

These are some of the heavenly/interesting/wonder filled moments that cannot be defined, however much a wonderful prose writer or poet you are. It is that one moment ( could be less than a second ) that turns around your perspective towards something... It is called Zen Moment.

Though Zen sounds slightly philosophical there is a lot of practicality in this.

Every day is a new day with new challenges at work. Most of us easily rate the work after a few years of experience, as 'Just the usual' or 'Nothing unusual about it'. That's when work becomes a monotonous and stressful job that we may not be able to handle for long. Instead, if we strive to look for the Zen Moment at work, we can enjoy every minute of work.

Now, if you are trying to ask me what kind of a Zen moment is possible, am not the right person to answer..and this blog is not the right place to look for answers either. No one other than you could be the right person to define your Zen moments in life.

I personally relate it to those moments that you cannot define in words and can only relate to when you have been through it..

Attempt explaining the fall of a petal from a flower to someone.. You will be outright called 'Boring' :) by most people...
Attempt explaining a joke to someone who didn't get it the first time... Even if he understands it later, he surely missed the beat of the Zen moment and it is never the same...sometimes, never a Joke at all...

Zen moments are to be realized and cherished and valued and can never be imparted. Let us always look for such moments in anything we do.

Keep watching out for the Zen moments in life to experience the beauty and wonder of YOU as a creation.

Thanks :
Heard the concept in the session, Zen and the Art of Technical Writing by Mr. Narasimhan of Commit India, in the Society of Technical Communication Conference in Pune. Everything written in this post are what got registered in my mind and may not be an exact interpretation and definitely not a word to word write-up of what I heard.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fashion

Fashion.. That's a movie for people who can handle some reality check in everyday life.
Meghna Maathur is an educated girl from Punjab. Her father is talking about an articleship with some Chartered accountant while she is keen on pursuing her teenage dreams of becoming a model. Much against the will of her parents and with some help from a friend of friend, she takes this bold step to go to the city, which she, like everyone else believes to be the Fashion Destination in India.

It was a very hard time for a town-bred girl to handle the 'just-no-way-out-of-it' situations in the fashion world. She made friends, lost some good friendships, gained some not-so-great-friendships, mistook some relationships, gave up some in-born, home-bred and precious values, drifted from her principles, did things that didn't quite agree with her as a person, tasted success, struggled to handle the lime light it brought, became high-headed, changed her self to remain on the spot light always, lost in love, lost sense and composure, and then....... understood people, gained the lost confidence, got back to the limelight once again, this time, as a more composed, understanding, caring, loving and lovable person.

It is a brilliant make I must say.. Though there are challenging questions like what will a teenager take away from the movie?? Is it: Pursue your dreams come what may, even if it means putting yourself and your loved ones into deep trouble, because all that matters is that confidence in you about you that you can achieve. Is it : Never go against your parents, because they know the world better than you.

Another angle is for the parents: Should I encourage just about anything that my son or daughter wants even if I know it is not good for them? What is good parenting? Is it: Follow your dreams my child, I will help you realize it. Or is it : Even if it is a dream that you want to realize, just understand that few things may not be what is good for you.

Fashion world has a complete different challenge: Is the Fashion world as bad as depicted in this movie? Now, if someone wants to be a model, is she given similar treatments? In India, a land of heritage and culture, how is this kind of society tolerated? What is happening in fact? Is it: Fashion world is too high for a common man to follow. or Is it: Fashion is a nice profession, but the people in there have some serious attitude and behavioural issues. Or is it : This is what Fashion is, if you cant handle it, this profession is not for you.

Excellent direction. Every star has done a fantastic job. Though at every other fashion show we cant help thinking that the costumes could have been better for the kind of hype that show claims, I must say, it was a good attempt. Priyanka Chopra has done her best.

There was this shot about how one of the improperly strapped costume strips open on the stage during the show and how the model handles the minute with a bold look that completely camouflages how she feels. It was a brilliant performance by Kangana, the model in the scene. The expression on her face on this particular scene is hard to forget if you attempt to relate to the woman in her.

Priyanka fits into the role very well and has given her best. The music is good and is a good fit in the movie. Its all about her and her life. All supporting stars have done a good job as well, to compliment the neatly crafted story.

Final take : Stunning, Brilliant, Interesting, Emotional, and Realistic portrait that is too much to handle for people below twenty three and people above forty three years of age. That 23-43 band is purely my take. If yours differs, am sure it will be just by a few numbers plus or minus. Am sure you admit that this movie can drive age groups less than 23, confused and age groups above 43, unsure of what they have to say about the movie.

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