Friday, October 27, 2017

F.R.I.E.N.D.S - VII

For previous parts click here Part 6

“So what is it that you are going to gift Monica this time?” Ross asks Chandler
“Its something I’ve custom made for her..see” Chandler shows a card
“Seriously..a greeting card? That’s the best you can come up with?”
An exasperated Chandler points him to look at the card and  open it to see.
“Wow..a MENU card. How original Chandler. She is a chef so you get her a Menu card for birthday? Even Joey could think better than this” comments Rachel
“Whoa..whoa…whats with me and my thinking?” enters Joey
“Chandler has got a MENU card as gift for Monica’s birthday” quips Phoebe
“Dude..what’s wrong with you? What are the dishes you’ve mentioned in it? Is Meatball sub there in it?”
Chandler plucks the card from Ross and hastily goes to his room.

Monica enters the apartment, looking all dazed and tired.
“Whoa..what were you cooking at the restaurant today? Crystal meth? You look stoned” says Phoebe
“I wish..by the way..why you guys are always here..don’t you’ve your own apartments?”
The group laughs away that comment and indulges in conversations totally ignoring Monica.

“So..Ross how was your date with your hot neighbor?” queries Phoebe
“Hot neighbor? Why I was not told about her? Ross..what’s with the secrecy?” questions Joey with a hurt look.
“Exactly the reason Joey..as it is she turned down me asking her out twice prior to accepting. I didn’t want to involve competition as well” which leaves Joey beaming with a knowing smile and a nod.
“So that makes your neighbor more of a “nay” bour and the candor with which you won her over would make you a candidate for a candid date?” quips Monica.
A stunned looking rest of the group watches her in awe, which makes Monica become hyper conscious of what she said. “Oh my God. I am Chandler..I am Chandler” and she runs into her room.
“I warned her marrying him will leave side effects” says Rachel sagaciously.

“But Joey..how come you are here today. Didn’t you had an acting assignment for that ad?” asks Ross
“Yeah..but I quit”
“Whoa.why?what happened?” asks Rachel
“Well..there was this character that they wanted me to enact yesterday. Which I did PERFECTLY. And today, the director asked me to re-act that scene again. I told him clearly. If you want me to perform again you’ve to pay me again. Fair deal right? He shot me down”
“That’s bad. That’s why I hate employers” says Phoebe voicing her protest.
“Hold on..did he ask you to react?” queries Ross slowly.
“Exactly” and then looking at rest of the group watching him with eager sense of anticipation it suddenly dawns on him.
“Oh my god” he rushes out catching his jacket, to make a dash to the agency.

When they finally get time together, Chandler gives Monica the card.
“Happiversary dear”
“Wow..a menu card. How..hmm…nice”
“Open it”
It turns out to contain the list of all her favorite things, her favorite songs, the first time they met and list of things that they did together et al. The more she read it, Monica goes misty eyed.
“Whoa Chandler..this is the most beautiful and romantic thing you’ve ever done for me. Thank you”
“Its not just a menu card..its “Me n U” card. The priceless moments that we share together which you cook up for us. Thank you Monica”
Monica looks at him wide eyed which makes Chandler super conscious of what he did and he rushes out shouting “I am Monica..I am Monica”

At central Perk, Chandler, Joey and Ross discuss about what happened.
“When I finally gave her the card then only I realized how much I’ve been ..i’ve been..”
“acting like Monica” filled in Joey
“Yeah. If she’s a country I would be a Monican by now”
“Don’t worry. You’re not alone in this. Today morning she imitated you” and Ross goes on to explain the comment that Monica made.
A smirking Chandler is all smiles.
“That’s my girl. She’s Bing on target” looking at the reaction on their faces, Chandler retracts saying “there are gentle pun. But that was pungent”

Friday, October 20, 2017

The dot on the top of i

Some years back I had posted about finding purpose in the below post. Or rather how I didn’t knew anything about having a purposeful life.
Do I know the answer now? May not be a resounding yes yet. But slowly there seems to be a pattern appearing in horizon. After certain stages in life, things get into a routine. There is only an extent to which you can rebel against and keep deliberating on what’s, how’s and why’s and thinking about why not’s. End of the day, the routine that is called society catches up with you and wears you down to conform to its norms. May be that is why it’s called “settling down”. Like a dead weight tied to your limbs so that you don’t keep fluttering your wings and drags you into what is exactly called as “ocean” of life. It’s not drowning per se. But people automatically get bogged down with the responsibilities that surround one from all sides and the struggle ensues to stay afloat. May be as part of this process or as orderly as any other chaos that is omnipresent in life, invariably and unknowingly people tend to gravitate towards another person and somehow the other person, often ends up as the missing purpose in search all throughout. Life stories of commitment-phobic youngsters who get married would be the best case in study, especially after they become parents and when their entire world of individual glorification starts to orbit around their kids life and growth.

There was a line in a song written by Kamal that “Naam vaazhntha vaazhvirku saandru aavathu innoru uyir”. As usual, like any other quote by him, the above mentioned line also has layered meaning. Loosely translated it means, the evidence of our existence is in another life. Here “saandru” could mean evidence or proof or example and for each take, it gives a whole new meaning to the sentence. We can lead a life such that it serves as an example for other. We should lead such a glorious life that, its evidence can be found in the enrichments of others. We may lead such a meritocractic life that the way of our life could be proof for others, to follow or abhor. Such a simple line and so many different meanings!! Also, “innoru uyir” when seen with the meaning as one’s own kid as against any other life, the whole sentence makes a totally different reference!!!! As often I find myself, floating listlessly in thoughts, I used to wonder what my dad would’ve felt while raising me up. I am pretty sure, his purpose in life would’ve been to ensure, there is a never thing that is left unattended for me, not a thing that I ask is left ungiven. He would’ve been an inspiration for “Life is beautiful” movie had it been made in tamil. Not that my surroundings were concentration camps, but for the sheer effort he took in protecting us from the pressures and trials of outside world and never ever showing his internal turmoil’s out in open. He wanted to take up postal learning of a degree course and it never materialized. But he made sure I became the first degree holder from his side of the family. I never knew if he ever thought for himself on any other occasion but ensuring a good life for the family.  Was he like that since his younger days? I would doubt it. Coming from such a large family with lot more mouths to feed and having joined job at a very young age, he must've had lot more dreams about himself. But considering how he transformed, it felt as if a missing link just revealed itself. 

The purpose that've been thinking about all throughout was from a prism strongly focused on self. It was always about what I wanted to do and how it would enthral me. But the moment the focus got shifted to how other people can still become the purpose of my life, it opened a whole new dimension. Like mom, who cooks for the entire family, the tastiest of dishes. But doesn't have to eat every single morsel of it to enjoy it. At times, even when there is nothing left for her, the smile on the faces of the satisfied kid would mean more to her than a mouthful of the delicacy. Like Dan Brown's novels which are based on extraordinary queries with the simplest of answers, life at times stumps you at multiple levels,  Ithaya ithana naala theditrunthomnu!!! I guess, the lens for life is not convex or concave but a simple mirror which changes the image based on the focal point of the observer.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Origin - book review

Usually Dan Brown’s book fall into the below set of process – when you are reading it you will feel the thrill of a roller coaster ride with adrenaline rush, as it reaches climax you would feel the excitement of a kid opening birthday present, after the initial few minutes of completing the book the mind would be reeling with all those information trying to process and after few hours you would be left wondering was the climax worth all those events that transpired in the course of the book. Also his novels will double up as travelogue for the respective city/country of the premise and would definitely send in flocks of tourists, curious to visit those places so beautifully crafted into his stories. In fact, locations have almost played the role of a key character in his books. Origin is no less different. And the guts of the guy to portray the king of Spain as gay!!! If you need any reference in stirring a hornets nest, Dan Brown should be on your speed dial.

Like all his novels, there is this extremely brilliant guy whose revelation was going to shake the foundations of the church and just when he manages to reveal it, he gets killed. Right from DVC, this has been the recurring theme. And to top it all, Robert Langdon would be invited to meet the guy right on the day of their demise. Is Langdon the Emadharman reincarnate, a meeting with whom would be your last in mortal form – could well be the next theme. And right on cue, the beautiful damsel, related to the deceased would accompany Langdon without second thought in all his cross country quests. The climatic reveal on what would’ve been the prime reason for the quest would leave you disappointed like, “ithukada ivlo akka poru” and the twist on who murdered the brilliant guy would turn out to be someone very close to Langdon. Since the same is followed in every novel, it has almost become the much expected surprise. But one should appreciate Brown for the fantastic running quests in his novels – be it chasing the bloodline of Jesus, the full blown war between Science and the church, despite its mokka ending the fantasy of free masons and the ultimate reveal or the ever increasing population, he has a knack of blending the theme with its surroundings in presenting a racy thriller.

As compared to his recent novels, it’s definitely his best attempt since “Da Vinci Code” to rile up controversies. If “Lost symbol” felt like an apology on book form to the church, he is back to where he found his fame. In this novel, there are two key questions for which are repeated umpteen number of times throughout the book – where we came from and where we are going. As simple as they sound, nothing could be more profound than knowing answers for these queries for it has been the eternal search. This novel stands out on two aspects that are different from his previous ones- the number of puzzles are pretty less and there is a surprise new addition that helps him in his quest – an AI tool called Winston. The reason that the scientist who claims to have answers to those eternal queries, however megalomaniacal he may want it to appear, are nothing more than a mix of some of the most popular theories floating around as to how the life forms first appeared. The religions may attribute it to the hand of god, but scientists have more or less convinced on the reason how the primitive life forms appeared on earth. The conclusion offered in the book is something of an extension which is sugar coated. But it’s the second answer that is more interesting and engaging and to a large extent might be true as well- the answer to where we are going. More appropriate phrase would be where would be human race be in 50 years from now. The answer is out in the open, if you are reading this post in any of your laptop, desktop, mobile, tablets or whichever form of reader. The AI tool, Winston, offers another significantly open clue. Considering the enormity of the role played by these gadgets, the answer is for anyone to guess.

As I finished reading the book, the first thought was “WOW”. As I began to think around the solutions provided and the story in general it was slowly losing its sheen and the only thought that remained was, in what way this revelation would’ve caused that big an uproar in religious crowds, for there are far more atheist viewpoints that are in circulation which are far more damaging in content.  Considering that the guy who gets killed reaches out only to representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions, the result sounds more like a case of comfort than all-encompassing solution. All said and done, the concept of an AI so smart that it takes its own decisions based on “thought process” of its creator is something which is scary and scintillating at the same time. In such a world, there may not be a need for god makes sense. But wouldn’t the humans be the creators of those AI and be the God for them? That is a whole different argument in itself. Overall, if you want a super racy book for your weekend reading, this book is right up there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Question for the ages

There was a dialogue in “SPYder” the last movie that I saw recently. It goes something like -If you kill a deer it’s a crime but not a goat. Maybe because their numbers are more. With so many humans abound, makes all the more sense to kill more of them – is the analogy with which the villain operates. With recent Vegas shooting makes one wonder on the psyche behind these psychos. That guy had made such elaborate setup to carry out his attack, it doesn’t look the act of an demented mind but more of determined to destruct. Had the killer been of a different colour and nationality, god only knows how many more countries would’ve been bombed to oblivion by now and how many hundreds of civilians would’ve paid the price with their lives and how many thousands displaced. As a race, we are in a race of our own to make a society of immigrants. Pretty soon those without a state for themselves would far outweigh those within secure borders.
Be whatever the ideology, its nauseating and scary to think of people with such thought processes and the many more that they tend to ignite with their actions and consequences. Does animal kingdom has this concept of assassins and organized crime? Does insect world take out expeditions and raids on its own clan and kind? Does any other organism, starve its own kind just to make a select few prosperous? For that matter, does any other being has laws and regulations to survive as a society? Humans are probably the most insensitive of the entire lot when it comes to settling their side of  deal in a symbiotic relation with nature. With increasing number of For every good Samaritan there are thousands of such borderline senile who makes one wonder what the future holds in store for us as a society. Interestingly, when I was pondering on this where we are heading as a society, I ended up with Dan Brown’s latest novel “Origin” which tries to find answer for this very question – where we came from and where we are heading. Hope to get the answer and post a review of it soon.

Waterboarding - book review

Waterboarding – the second of the many to come published books by Brags.
The title might have come into prominence, post the war on terror initiated by the Americans and more specifically on the torture “treatment” meted out to the Guantanamo bay prisoners. The title is an allegory to the mental trauma of the hero, Ved.

The story is told through diary entries of the three main characters, Ved, Sara and Maya. The story opens with Ved, who meets with an accident and suffers amnesia. The missing pieces of his life are filled in by Sara and Ramesh, who hide the details about his girlfriend (ex) Maya. Maya texts Ved enquiring about his condition and seeing a text from an unknown number induces curiosity in Ved, who goes about figuring, who is Maya and why is she not in his life anymore. He also finds out the reason why Sara was not revealing the details and as he comes to terms with the reality and realizes what he wants from his relationships, his health condition has other plans. His indecisiveness in deciding on the course of his relation results in him losing out on few and the story ends in an melodramatic finish with an open ended closure.

One disadvantage of reading stories of authors whom you know in person is that, it robs off the sheen of novelty. The story is a generous mix of fiction based on real life events and when the result goes against what happened in reality, at times it’s an inspired and welcome result and sometimes it doesn’t quite add up. Leaving aside the personal link, if one looks at the story as an outsider, I felt, the start and ending were sort of abrupt. Ved, being the character around whom the story revolves, has major running portions dedicated to him, yet you would end up feeling not knowing him better. May be it was intentionally characterized as that is one of the reason for his messy relationships. Despite Sara having the second most running space, its Maya’s character that has more depth and is impressive. Probably the only rounded off character that has a change and maturity about it. But the reason why she breaks the relationship despite being such an intense and physical one is not clearly told. The character deserved a bit more detailing in justifying her decision. The other character that I felt needed more space or at least a dairy entry of his own was Ramesh. He comes across as a loyal foot soldier, who despite knowing that he is not in the top list, continues to remain a faithful friend with almost no expectation. The title waterboarding would be as apt to such people, who are often taken for granted.

Considering the previous books, 300, by the same author, I felt reading this book was more like its immediate sequel. Probably it might come out as a good marketing strategy as well (??!!) if the names can be edited to be in synch. Despite its short size, just over 200 pages, the book feels bigger than its printed volume of pages. Probably because of its dialogue intensive format, may be. If there is one common thread that unites Ved, Sara and Maya, it’s their indecisiveness about their relation with each other and the impulsion with which they jump into a new one. But for this, it’s a pretty heavy storyline with lot of melodrama, which makes you wonder on some of the chaotic phases and choices of our own life. Whether to make a waterboarding exercise out of it or surf over it is the choice of the individual.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Spider - review

This week-end movie watch was the latest toast of tinsletown – SPYder. Considering that it was a bi-lingual and for a fact that the telugu superstar has dubbed on his own in tamil, it still felt like a telugu movie with him on screen. But for him, the rest of the cast didn’t exhibit that vibe. Somehow it was still not connecting with Maheshbabu. May it’s the baggage of his super hits in telugu or because of so many dubbed versions of his telugu movies in tamil. Somehow, it still feels alien to watch him, despite his best efforts. May be the fact that, at the pretext of underplaying, he was plastic in emoting, didn’t help either. Somehow movie actresses and doctor roles don’t quite tally, at least in recent past. Almost all the loosu characters are shown as MBBS students or even practicing doctors, when their characterization wouldn’t even merit them to be tutorial passed.
After a really long time, tamil cinema gets a crackpot, psychotic and ruthless villain. The last one I could recollect was Mansur ali khan in Captain Prabakaran which was ages ago. Right from the intro scene with a mask on his face, SJ Surya is a riot. His flashback episode on the reason for his psychotic character is quite unique, with probably the converse case of Pithamagan as the only close rival. The madness that he unleashes with his acts makes the magnitude of impact and raises the level of his villainy. Even without showing the violence he wrecks, just by the dialogues of those who mourn the victims, the director raises the bar of villainy and his characters soars to the sky in monstrosity. Considering the first ever time, he comes to face the hero, that encounter between the two was a terrible let down. And the climax screws it up further.
Indian cinema, especially telugu and tamil, have long had their own set of super heroes in the form or Rajini, MGR,NTR,Maheshbabu,PawanKalyan, Ajith, Vijay and the list is endless. Anyone who does “action” hero roles in tamil or telugu has only comic heroes as peers/rivals in Hollywood. They can fly, beat 100’s of people with bare hands, escape speeding bullets, stop trains and what not. It’s for this reason that, making superhero movies in regional languages is such an oxymoronic adventure as their matinee idols themselves mimic all the superpowers. But there is a gap for villains to perform and that’s the very reason they are always very noticeable in our movies. This particular character had such a great opportunity to be developed on par with the dark knight’s Joker. With the villain knowing about the hero and not the other way round, I expected fireworks when they first meet, which literally did happen and turned it into a damp squib. The climax was not befitting for the hype with which the villain got introduced and got reduced to yet another fight sequence which was dismal to say the least, saved only by an even worse ending scene where the hero gives lectures on humanity.
There were two standout sequences – one involving how the hero saves his mom and brother with the villain lurking inside his house and how he makes use of housewives to save the victims under the control of the villain. The irony couldn’t be more hard hitting with pizza delivery guy, water can guy, vegetable vendor reaching his house prior to ambulance and finally the police. And as for housewives climbing over terraces and saving the family, it was far fetching though original. The chilling scene being, how casually the villain walks past a dead body hanging from the ceiling on the very house. And by the way, that was a spoiler and this is the alert sentence J

Gils verdict – nice entertainer. Could’ve been great.