Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Poll for polis and nation's shame

So many elections have come and gone but none have witnessed such a bat-shit crazy set of candidates like the current by-election. The prime contender (avary sollikiraaru) is the sole claimant (alongside three others) of the legacy of the deceased incumbent and his claim to fame is achieving notoriety and lawsuits for illegal land grabbing and disproportionate assets other than being the nephew of the friend of the deceased. And funnily this kettle, calls, the husband of the niece of the deceased who has started his own party, as black. The other contender in fray is the person whose conscience woke up from its Samadhi after his well publicised visit to one. The main opposition has decided to land a candidate whose face can't be recollected despite him standing next to his own poster.

This is one election that everyone wants to win but no one is worthy of contesting, that considering the credence of the deceased incumbent is quite something. As wondered several years back, India is haunted by J & K right at the top and also at the bottom. With J out of equation and K nearing his expiry date (guess so!!) the supposed power house of a state that lorded the key portfolios for the past several decades is now without a stable and statesman of a leader. Not that the previous ones were, but they were pretty good in striking deals for themselves if not the state and there was always a slight trickle back to the public.

What shame could be worse than to witness ones own fellow state men, who toil to feed the millions, striking in protest in their undies at the national capital with not a single soul bothering to take their case. Shame on the media for highlighting an arrogant ass of an MP who slapped a staff as headline news, while side lining what should be the eye of the storm by now. Wonder where is that good Samaritan who claims to be the most noble soul on earth out to cleanse the system, who never misses an opportunity to bite the center, on this issue. Probably still licking his wounds on not being able to win Punjab in recent elections.

Feels really frustrated to see not a single party owning up to their mistakes and leave alone apologising but none are even willing to climb down from their ego mounts and talk to people. What the hell..without these guys wonder what they will eat. High time they are served humble pie. Like marina hope other farmers from surrounding states siege the capital and make people in power realise that who is the servant and who is the lord.

If this is democracy, screw it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scion of Ishvaku - review

I don’t remember the last time I read a novel and got angry. Well, there is always a first for everything and “Scion of Ishvaku” by Amish takes the credit. This is the same guy who came up with the “Meluha” trilogy, loosely based on Shiva Puranam and specifically around how Shiva avenges the death of Sati his wife. Though he can claim literary license, he had simply re-written the puranam in local tongue, making Lord Ganesh and Kali look like mutants and Lord Karthikeya as a battle hardened boy. Though it was a rehashed version of the purana there was a sense of respect for the underlying characters as they are all worshipped as gods in real time. That respect is the single biggest victim in this book.

The series was touted as upgraded version of Ramayana. The very first chapter of the book demolishes any notions on any similarity it may carry to the “Meluhan” series. The story varies 180 degress from Ramayana at times, probably borrowing heavily from every folk form of the epic available, with the first battle scene between Dasarath and Ravan setting the tone. There were few interesting changes to the chraracterisation that might pour petrol on already stoked passions, where Rama is shown as a non-veg eating person. Not just him, the entire clan feasts on meat. How much ever this attracts criticism and probably threats considering, I feel it makes logical sense going by his description of a Kshatriya and warrior prince. That logical link apart, rest of the story was all utter non-sense with no semblance of a coherent script. It felt as if the author took a real long break between each chapters and forgot the flow!! There were so many jumps and sequence mismatches that it felt neither like an adaptation of the epic nor original.

To me the ultimate sacrilege to the story was the inclusion of “Nirbhaya” episode and how Rama would’ve handled it. That was the worst thing that could’ve been ever fathomed and linked to what is supposedly a sacred book for many. Again, had the novel been true to itself as a mere story resembling Ramayana, it may not have been much felt and would’ve even worked in its favor. But every single scene borrowed literally from the book and with every character even retaining the same name and characterization, it felt nothing short of blasphemy. The first part of the supposed trilogy(?) end with Ravan abducting Sita, who follows Ram into his self imposed exile as punishment for using mass destruction weapons on the war against Ravan, who attacks Mithila to abduct Sita. That’s right. Ram vs Ravan begins right after their wedding itself and even before that on the day Ram was born, Ravan defeats Dasarath mortally injuring him. The story goes back and forth with no proper sequence and there is nothing that holds the interest to await the next part. What was excruciating was that he mentions Tamil nadu as sangam Tamil, with even understanding the difference between an era and a land area. Total pissoff.

Gils verdict – when I got the book from library, my wife, being a Ramayana buff, took the book to her eyes in respect. She has done a bit of research on Ramayana and has even received appreciation letter from our former president APJK, encouraging her work. Wonder how many pieces this book would’ve gone into had she read it J This book is a strict no for anyone who is a devotee and definite no for anyone wanting to try a novel.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Abstract of absurdity

The recent IP issue between IR and SPB, is one of the many flashpoints on social media, which has its own share of “breaking news” aplenty. What it brings to light is the amount of awareness and the lack of it amongst our audience who never shy away from taking sides with not even “nuni-pul” amount of knowledge. Everyone has their own two cents worth of information and want to wage a war against others who go against their word. In one way, its good as the awareness about Intellectual property may show a slight increase and might even be the top trending topic till someone digs up a long post on what is it and what are its loop holes. Generally, these flash points have a quick life and they grow exponential in their reach till the time someone actually takes pain to explain the topic and puts forth a lengthy article on the merits and demerits of the point of contention. Till the time the pro and anti group of the topic, grind each other to dust with all choice of abuses possible and put their followers to shame. There can never be a middle path in the age of social media for, you are either with us or against us, is the default motto.

One heartening thing about these explosive news headings is that, those who are indulgent enough, takes pains to learn about the topics. But there are people who simply want to show-off their knowledge and spread false info there by creating confusion on the validity of the information. There are even debates conducted on the correctness of the information available on the web as its easily and generally tampered with. Wikipedia was once known as the greatest reservoir of information, probably equated with the lost library of Alexandria. But with the ease with which information is changed by people, its hard to believe which is the truth.

We’ve finally reached the stage where anything can be searched for and found on the net. But are they really the truth is something best let for the individual’s discretion. As for the IP battle of Raja, it raises way too many questions and lot less answers. Who owns the IP – is it the producer who employed everyone? Is it the music director who created the tune? What about those musicians who helped in composing the tune, do they get a share? The lyricist, for without which the tune is just a soul without body, the singers who supplement the music, the other technicians involved, does everyone get their share? If there is restriction on public usage of the songs without the permit of the music director is it like he is the single point reference for all these people or will they also be be represented individually? What is that royalty amount if its to be shared with this big a group? Is it really worth it? The list is endless. But the point is, the smoke has began to billow and the fire has to be stopped. Hope it not just clears the deck for the powers to be but also brings wider application for the general masses which may eventually benefit those who are entitled to.

Culture vultures

With any and every news creating uproar these days, it was hardly surprising that the news of Karnataka CM passing law to make Kannada mandatory creating the furore that was almost on expected lines. To me what was intriguing was the very fact that our states have all been linguistically divided and that was done almost more than half a century ago. Yet, if a CM of a state has to pass a bill to make the local language mandatory, it raises serious questions. Agreed that such a law would create chaos for government staff on transfer and especially their kids, who would’ve to pick up  a new language for every transfer of their parents and also serious stress for them to administer their tasks parallel learning a language afresh just for their official purpose.

The situation has been brought upon us by our own folks. There was literally no planning or long term thinking and now with hindsight its pretty clear that none of the erstwhile leaders had any clue how the linguistic segregation was going to pan out. There could and definitely would be lot many reasons favoring such a move when it was initiated and thanks to the local Dravidian parties who screwed it up big time by their anti-hindi agitations, whatever semblance such an act had, had long been forgotten and made impossible to achieve. Ours being a country rich in diversity and heritage and scale rivalling that of Europe, we always take pride over the number of languages and dialects that are abound in India but honestly not many make any attempt to learn anything other than their own mother tongue and as per the popular trend even that is on the decline. Language of choice has fast become obsolete and language that helps you earn a wage is what has become the majorities preference- which of course is English. We take to streets shouting slogans when someone tries to make sense in opting for a common language across the country, screaming our throats dry as to how it undermines our mother tongue but conveniently skip the question when it comes to our own kid and our own situation. Had the same person protesting been posted in some location where he is totally alien to the culture and language, would he still be crying for his mother tongue begs a query. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in fighting for the rightful respect for each tongue as deserved and anyone who fails to do so is a fake. But when it comes to linking a nation of this size and scale, other than English, we definitely do need a common language. Since Hindi is the popular choice, why not it be is my point. If we’ve to select one language from each corner of India as representative for this linking project, then our school syllabus would resemble the erstwhile currency notes with denominations written on all the major languages.

The concept of linguistic division has only created more confusion and have helped in cunning politicians to create more roadblocks for our own growth. We can point fingers at Europe where every country has its own language and culture and yet having growth rates several times better than ours. But they have the basic infra related to their setup, firmly set as well, which we all ignore. How many local languages have scientific publications in India? How many local languages have translations of major ground breaking information or science articles or the least being how many of them are even current in this modern world with words for the most commonly used terms!!! Unless we’ve a thriving language industry that caters to all these needs and make it suitable to compete with the other languages of foreign nations, leave alone Indian, there is literally no point in adhering to this ridiculous rule. I am all for promoting my local language but this doesn’t happen as an individual act alone. I need proper infrastructure to train myself and my kid in my mother tongue to perform my official and personal activity. Unless such an environment is available, there is no scope for linguistic division to make sense. We would all end up witnessing one hyperbole after another by conniving politicians who would keep selling us the dummy. Pity those poor officials whose life is going to be made even more miserable after every state takes to enacting this law. No wonder the bribe amount for skipping transfers are such a killing!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Theory of relativity

I saw a meme a while back about how villains in comics are always given the raw deal, considering the fact that most of them are academically endowed and would’ve worked hard to rise to their position of power, while most of the superheroes would’ve got their superpowers either by stroke of luck/accident (Spiderman) or owing to them being from another planet (superman) or riding on the inventions of the scientists on their payroll (Batman). While almost none of the villains are super humans almost all of the superheroes are, is one consistent fact across all comics. Just googled Wiki for some familiar villains and this is what their description says -

Joker - The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers.

Penguin -  bullied as a child for his short stature, weight, and beak-like nose. Several stories relate that he was forced, as a child, always to carry an umbrella by his overprotective mother due to his father's death from pneumonia after a drenching. He has a brain power that could possibly outwit some of the smarter men in existence.

Two face - Before his transformation into Two-Face, Harvey Dent had a successful career as Gotham's upstanding district attorney, proficient in nearly all matters pertaining to criminal law.

Lex Luthor - power-mad American billionaire, business magnate, inventor, scientist, philanthropist to the city of Metropolis, and one of the most intelligent people in the world. A charismatic and well-known public figure, he is intent on ridding the world of alien superhero Superman, who Lex Luthor views as an obstacle to his megalomaniacal plans and as a threat to the very existence of humanity.

There is an extended similarity in our stories as well. In Puranas, the villains (asuras) are generally not well endowed at birth itself unlike the heroes (Devas). To my knowledge from the stories that I’ve read, all the Asuras do intense penance to please the lord and gain their power as boon. More often than not the trigger for their vigorous penance would’ve been some misdeed or insult caused to them by the Devas and to avenge the same they would acquire super powers and would unleash their revenge. The lords would await for what is a fair bit of time of punishment and embarrassment for the devas and at the appropriate time would take sides with them and vanquish the villains. The correct inference could be more like a parent mediating in a kids fight, only addition being the bias.       Note: I personally feel the fights and punishments and the avatars taken by the lords as described in our Puranas have much more deeper meaning and are not to be taken in a literal sense. I am quoting them as comparison to the American comics for want of no other reference point from our end.

Getting back to the context of the post, going by the similar vein of thought across all comics, it all ties back to the fallacy that humans, however talented they may be should and would, always tend to misuse their power, however deserved or fruits of labor they may be and always should have a regulator, who in all probability has similar or stronger skills which make them as alien. The one singular theme which has a strong under current across all stories is that “Power corrupts and Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. While this message comes out pretty cleanly in our Puranas and stories, its hidden and layered in the western comics. I’ve always looked at in wonderment about how crazy Americans are about their comic heroes and all those hulla-bulla. But the more one takes a deeper look at the stories they are not so much in difference from ours after all. And considering the fact that our Puranas have been around like forever and have been mostly propagated through word of mouth and in the form of songs, they are definitely the frontrunners for all of these comics and considering how young the American nations are (excluding the history of natives about whom I am as clueless as their conquerors) they would definitely want to consider these comics as their heritage and culture and probably it gives them some sort of identity amidst all those river valley civilization nations, who kind of have a head start of about few millenniums.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kutram 23 - review

Of late, tamil cinema has taken to scripts like never before. With newcomers there is always a relish of fresh thoughts and being uncorrupted by Box office constraints, they almost always stick to their originality. It doesn’t always reflect in their successive attempts, having been spoiled by success. But not in the case of Arivazhagan, the director of Kutram 23 movie. He struck gold with his maiden venture “Eeram” which was probably the premier movie that set the trend for horror genre’s haunt at the box office. He followed it up with “Vallinam” a sports themed movie and that too on basketball rivalling cricket, a first for tamil cinema and unlike the previous movies in that genre, this one did stood apart for its simplistic story line. The third one “Aarathu sinam” was a Malayalam remake of the movie “Memories”, which was based on a psycho serial killer. Having made three back to back movies solely backed by strong scripts, there was almost a sense of expectation on his latest movie, which again is based on a story by crime fiction king of writers Rajesh Kumar. Needless to say, he has lived up to the expectation.

The movie is based on a series of suicides which start with a murder and a missing person. One quick drawback being, how easily the hero, investigating police officer, makes the logical(??) leap of faith in linking the murder to the missing person who eventually turns up dead/killed. The reason for the suicides and the straight forward police work sets the pulse for an interesting climax, which somewhat comes out as unimpressive. Probably genres as well grow strength to strength based on the success of previous movies. I guess, had “Dhuruvangal pathinaru”, another cop-investigation thriller, failed, would this movie still have been seen with a positive mindset begs a question. Nevertheless, the strength of Kutram 23, lies in its novelty of the crime – genetically selected super babies via artificial insemination. Had it been an Hollywood movie, there might’ve been more stress on the babies and how selecting superior genes proves to be terrifying in the end. But may not have found any takers in Kollywood. The premise has been diluted with packed melodrama and mother sentiment milked dry in the limited screen time possible. Abhinaya, the real life physically challenged yet gorgeous looking girl, plays a role she wouldn’t have touched with a pole had she been blessed with normal physical abilities. She plays Anni to Arun Vijay(hero) who would probably be a decade and half older to her. Shame on our movie industry for not making full use of her immense acting talent but kudos to the director for at least giving her this work to portray which she does with élan. No one can even guess her disabilities and she deserves much more meatier roles. Heroine looks simple and literally carries the girl next door look. Surprisingly her portion travels throughout the movie and is not just restricted to 2 songs. High time, comedy portions are removed from movies with such intense story line. Agreed that its supposed to be a relief, but hope the director watches the rushes before theatrical release and wonder if at any point either of those jokes made sense or tickled. Villain’s role is limited and comes out rushed. Hero, guess everyone had already gone enough ga-ga over his under play and strict police officer performance. Arun Vijay deserves more movies and more success for all his slog in the industry. His perseverance has begun to pay, hopefully.

I saw an article, more of a rant by a doctor (medical student?? Not sure) where there was stinging criticism on how the movie shows IVF/Artificial insemination (pardon any errors in technical terminology) in bad light and it makes the doctor’s play god. The post was also caustic on the literary liberty, generalizing one-off cases of misuse as core theme of the story, which may effectively impact the IVF “industry”/”business” as people may get scared of the reasons shown in the movie. In the movie, one of the victim was shown as opting for the sperm of a sportsperson, one being administered with her FIL’s for want of a male offspring(Can the tech decide the gender of the child as well? News for me) while the Anni character actually gets killed for not wanting the child as she considers it will make her “impure” for her husband. Obviously these are cinematic and in no way are quoting it as the norm. But the objections raised by the doctor was more towards how it would chase away people from opting IVF due to the stigma it might cause by the scenes shown in the movie and the reference he quoted was from “Ramana” where there is a famous scene involving treatment being given to dead body and how it permanently ruined the image of hospitals. Somehow I feel docs are always touchy and hyper sensitive when it comes to their depiction in media. Obviously their business thrives on faith and can’t blame them. Hope there is also some action taken to avoid such malpractices as well. Adhukum sound vitta nallarukkum. Any discovery has both good and bad. If projected on the goodness it becomes documentary while the badness gets to be a movie script. If the doctor folks are worried about their image getting tarnished by movies they are probably few decades late in their action.

Gils verdict – three cheers to movie directors who’ve finally opted for novels/novelists for stories yet retaining their touch in screenplay. May Arivazhagan and his tribe grow. Kutram 23 would definitely be a treat for thriller genre lovers.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Yeman - review

Another interesting story selection by Vijay Anthony and possibly another hit for him as well. This man surely knows what works for him and what doesn’t. To me he is like Ranatunga, the best cricket captain of Srilanka (and possibly ever). Any person, be it a sportsman or not, will dismiss Ranatunga as just another pot bellied beer guzzler and would never in their wildest dreams believe that he had played every single test match for his country right from the first match and had won them their first world cup in an painstakingly physical and agonizingly mental game. When fielding, the scorecard might hardly contain any reference of Ranatunga, as he never bowls and nor was a wicket keeper. Considering his “not-so-athletic” figure and being the captain, his side was always considered to be one fielder short. But this guy had a knack of hiding himself on the open field. He would station himself at such odd places, the batsmen at times might be lulled into thinking who would be fielding at this position and offer him a chance. Of course I am trivializing that great man’s fielding skills just for fun. To me Vijay Anthony is the Ranatunga of tamil movies where he hides his limitations under the crispiness of the script.

in “Yeman”, he plays dual role, for second movie running after “Saithan”, as both father and son. The father character dying within ten minutes of movie run time followed by the mother character makes one wonder this could be yet another revenge/political story. But it isn’t. Obviously the script writer has conceived situations which are similar to hundreds of movies before and had deliberately changed the way it’s handled by the hero. The twists and turns on the story, with each character back stabbing the other in a musical chair game of murders, no prize for guessing who ends up the winner. The scenes between Thiyagarajan and Vijay Anthony and how they plot the downfall of each others opponents are nothing short of a chess game. The dialogues are so straight forward that you could feel yourself nodding a response. The climax finish of the villain is another new with the hero taking revenge on him for his dad’s death, without even knowing about the history. Also, the fact “that-you-can-be-victorious-but-your-conscious-will-still-haunt-you” kind of an ending was a nice touch again by the director. Heroine, as in all VA’s movies is the weakest of links and is there just for the mandatory duet, which again is the second weakest of the links. Usually, he manages one nice song in all his movies, with Yeman being a rare exception where every song falls flat. He rules in BGM and has reserved the best for his intro scenes and mass scenes.

Gils verdict – Yeman is probably one of the neatest political thrillers in recent times and considering the weak script that says a lot about dearth of quality films in this genre. It’s not every day you get an “Amaidhi padai” and have to make do with these movies. Wonder if any of the current crop of heroes would’ve had the stomach to pick any of the recent scripts handled by VA and especially this one. It takes a really neutral personality devoid of any pre-slotted image to shoulder and deliver this movie and VA does exactly that. But having managed it, he may probably have hinted at taking up more masala roles in future, involving mass heroism. Hope he stays away from that bad idea, for he has made such an investment in cultivating a fan following who likes his movies not only for their “superstition-my-foot” kind of titles which are solely dependent on scripts. Him, along with Arulnidhi and Vijay sethupathi are people whose movies are always backed by strong scripts and decent storyline. Hope they stay true to that J Yeman – definitely not a “uyir vaangifying” movie.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Points to ponder

“Hi XYZ..we are ABC calling from so-and-so technologies. Are you ready for the telephonic interview. Is it a good time to talk?”
“Sure”
“Do give us a quick intro about yourself”
And so proceeded the interview of my friend. Once the call was over. He was all fuming and frustrated. Apparently it didn’t go well as there was a mismatch of what was the job description shared to him for which he had applied and the expectation of the panelists who conducted the interview. He felt angry that they asked him all kinds of questions most which would’ve been used for screening a junior level candidate and none were about his proficiency. He felt bad that the company had judged his profile so wrongly and decided to give it a skip, even if offered, which he felt was highly unlikely considering how the call went.

There were quite a few lessons for me from this incident and possibly few others might benefit as well I felt. First and foremost, the mistake made by my friend and the panelist, which, being right at the start of the call, skewed it perfect to the finish.

Any conversation has two parties (that’s why it’s obviously called the conversation, else would’ve been a monologue apdinu cross question pannapdaathu). For a meaningful discussion, the first step is to understand your audience. Both the parties should first introduce themselves and in case of an interview it is the prerogative of the panelist to initiate it about him/herself, talking about his profile and also a heads-up about the company. It would primarily help to settle any nerves for the candidate and would also establish the audience who would be questioning him to arrive at a context behind the questions. If the introduction doesn’t happen, the candidate can try to query the same. But it may result in the panelist getting offended at times as it may touch their ego or set off all kinds of negative alarms about the candidate. There could still be a polite way of putting it, but my preference would be option 1 – for the panelist to initiate.

The second not so glaring issue from the call was about the very panel itself. In many cases, irrespective of the nature of the job being interviewed for or the experience of the candidate, usually it’s the top performer of the project or someone strong on any one particular area (be it technical or functional) and anyone with similar or slightly more experience would be for company. Very frequently the panel itself could be a cooked up one at the neck of the moment as the original panelists might not have been available. This is one of the cardinal sins that any company does akin to shooting itself on its feet. They not just lose out on a potentially good candidate but also end up getting their name tarnished about how they treat the applicants. Getting the right panel, with correct experience level and more importantly – them being aware of the job profile for which they are screening is an unavoidable must. The interview is not a chance for the panelist to throw darts in the dark at unassuming candidates and they need to be more conscious of the fact that the task on their hand is pretty critical from someone’s career perspective and also from their company’s perspective as well.

In my personal case, I’ve witnessed both kind of panelists and to be honest have been on the other side as well. The rant by my friend gave me a chance to reflect on how I should make these corrections for ongoing interviews and how I should attend as well.