Sunday, June 05, 2016

Iraivi

There have been films that flow on an overdrive of essential content - those that exemplify one or some of the crucial ingredients, while leaving the rest out of its recipe. Some of these have gone on to become great hits while some leave our memories faster than a frail fart. Occasionally, there are those that are made because they need to be made. They flow along a straight line without causing a ripple, but they stir your existence from within. These are those that send a soft signal to the soul, questioning the acceptance of regularity. These are those that build a tunnel to the heart and leave a lump of melancholy. These are those that makes one feel light with heaviness. I have watched such movies in other languages - some Iranian and French - and have craved for them in mine. Iraivi has quenched.
It is evident that Karthik Subbaraj has made the movie twice - once in his mind and then on the reel. The former must have been a long internal battle - a struggle to bring to shape the multitude of characters, to perfect their imperfection, to give them their purpose. The script that has yielded is picture perfect, pun intended. The neatness of the movie is a result of completely pre-built sequence of scenes that he has corrected and re-corrected. There is no character wasted, no time lost. This is an art, one that will last for long. Someone is surely going places.
Every human has two sides - The male is prone to strong emotions although it cloaks them well, while the female is balanced in mind but fragile at heart. The male cannot think objectively although it lays the objectives, while the female ploughs through peril to keep the path straight. The male is prone to regret for weak reasons, while the female is capable of irreparable damages. This results in a vicissitude of behavior that strongly impacts anyone that comes in contact. The accepted notion of the role of a woman in a household is a very delicate subject. In many societies, it is more so, because it is accepted by the women themselves. Their strength and grit is unconquerable except by a man. This is an irony because man is weak. Iraivi explains this in a strong screenplay, with a fitting subtle background score by Santhosh Narayanan.
The film hits hard because there is such clarity in the display of cast - the wreck that a seemingly modern woman with a daughter to care for is in, because of an obsessive alcoholic husband - the solitude that a widow embraces, and how she could be called characterless for seeking what everyone seeks - the smile of a free spirit that gets lost because it is bound to an impulsive ogre - the plot is a crochet around the life of these women that get dragged because of their chains. The involved men are not bad, but they are men. There is a lot of symbolism too, some are bound to be missed. There is subtlety in the end, in how one woman chooses not to go out in the rain, while the other is drenched with an outstretched hand.
SJ Surya deserves a special mention for the stunning depiction of his role! He sums up the idea of the film in the end, displaying some serious skills of acting and dialogue delivery. Anjali is an exemplary performer in all circumstances where she stands tall in spite of the crumbs falling around her. Vijay Sethupathi is his usual self, he is mastering such roles. Bobby Simha breezes through as a negative overshade although he is the only mars that truly understands venus.
Iraivi is feminist of the real kind - not the one that shows random external fortuity in which the scales are tilted against women and where the men are bête noire - but the one that shows their perpetual inner struggle, where there are no scales but just the normally accepted norms which men are part of. The movie is a fabric designed with a delicate interweave of tensile threads, each having strengths and weaknesses of its own. Each serves a purpose, complete in their parts. Each renders a firm influence of its individual charm on the fabric while the weaver craftily braids them along an intricate pattern that forms a holistic masterclass. Iraivi is masterclass.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

This post is to share my learnings from the battle against the Chennai floods and its victims. I think we need to urgently and immediately change our strategy based on my observations about the scenario shift over the past 5 days. It's a bit lengthy but please read through and share if you agree with the approach going forward.
As the water in most places has receded, Chennai is getting back on its feet faster than it was put down. That momentum should be sustained. Based on my observations yesterday (Monday 7th Dec), it has reached a stage where that would happen only if the fallen (read victims) rise, put up their hands and own up to the damage, more than the warriors (read volunteers) fighting it out for them.
I saw a lot of relief vehicles super-loaded with supplies like food packets, water bottles and biscuits. There are also sanitary napkins, milk, medicines, towels and bedsheets. I had volunteers coming over to me and request to move elsewhere to distribute what we had, as the area in question is adequately taken care of. Believe me, I had the same told to me everywhere I went yesterday. I did not still blindly come away, but checked the interiors. Shops are open everywhere. Essentials are back in supply. People have washed up their clothes and the Chennai sun has already dried them. Cricket is being played on streets. Anything anyone wants is a walk away, just like before. I personally think the battle has been fought and it's time for retreat. No war has winners, so we just need to accept the loss and move on. Normalcy is the victory.
As in any war, the retreat is very important. During a war, there's a state of emergency. Things are low in supply, citizens are unreachable in a state of panic and unable to get anything done. That requires providing everything readymade, to save lives. But retreat is about sustenance and regrouping to restore normalcy. The moves should cut losses, provide help that enables people to move on with their lives. It shouldn't be so comfortable that they want to continue to be in the state of war.
The first problem I see is the problem of plenty. I think we should stop supplying food packets to any reachable spot inside the city, unless it has displaced residents who are out of their homes. Jafferkhanpet, for instance, is restored and folks are fighting over incoming supplies which are now just like government freebies. People do not need the thing, they just want it as it is there to want. They are refusing to go on with their lives as supplies keep coming. This has led to in-fighting as the mindless push to hoard the freebies has gone on to a maniacal level, so much so that I came out with a few bruises before I finished distributing some towels. This is in spite of screaming repeatedly that it is only for kids.
The second problem I see is the problem of incorrect supply. Folks do not need what's coming in. This requires someone to talk to the locals first, understand their needs and route or change the items delivered there. Take Pandian Nagar behind Toraipakkam in OMR, for example. There is a slum right next to the canal, which was washed out in the floods and people had to flee their homes. Until a couple of days back, the displaced folks had not eaten for two days. An announcement in Suriyan FM saved them. They trudged back to see empty houses. Kitchens are bare, there is no food to cook and vessels have rusted. They haven't been to work for more than 15 days, so there's little to no money on hand. A teacher in this area tearfully explained to me that they want to rebuild, but they need to cook for that. More than food packets, she explained, they need basic vessels and rice/grains/vegetables that would last for 3 or 4 days, along with drinking water and milk. She said all they needed was that initial push and they would be able to self-manage after that.
The third problem I see is the problem of late resuscitation. This could be because of proximity to danger or internal limitations. There are areas where people are still evacuated and displaced out of their homes. These are sporadic and towards the outer periphery of the city. Take Mudichur, for example. People moved back but had to be evacuated again because of a breach in the nearby lake. There are also some old age homes and orphanages inside the city that are taking time to bounce back, because they depend on external support and are low on manpower. We need to sustain providing emergency supplies like food packets, blankets and medicines in these areas and make sure they are not used up in areas with problem 1 and 2 above.
The battle has been fought. It is now time for the army (read volunteers) to hand over control to the Government (read organizations with bigger support systems). While the army is still actively needed in places of problem 3 above, they are needed only in a supporting nature in areas with problems 1 and 2.
Shedding all my modesty, I want to say that the volunteers are also victims in one way. I am bruised all over my body, every step hurts as I walk with a limp because of a sore spot. The damage is also emotional. I sometimes have spontaneous tears in my eyes. I wonder why I cry and then I remember the face of that naked kid on the road that pleaded with me for one more biscuit packet. I see flashes of that night where we waded in chest deep water, in a zero-visibility road of the CIT colony, feeling the next step with our paws to make sure we are not spiralling down a manhole, and delivering a packet of bread to a blinking flashlight that suspended a bucket from the first floor. I knew the new friend I made, who willingly joined us to help out just 10 minutes back, will catch me if something happened. With him on my shoulders, I could scale mount everest. His religion or name is irrelevant. He came, we conquered, he left.
I hope all these efforts of lakhs of common men would not be wasted, now that it has reached the level of utilizing the relief funds for post-calamity resuscitation. I keep my fingers crossed. Some of them might have already been spent for printing posters.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wrote this after Sashwat woke me up one morning, just at about dawn ..

கவுந்துறங்கும் குறிஞ்சிமலர் கண்விழித்துக் கதறியதில்
கலங்கடித்து எழுந்தேனடா ..
தாய்பாசம் தலைக்கேறி தந்தைக்கும் துடிதுடிக்கும்
துளிர்நேரம் கண்டேனடா ..
ஓவென்ற ஓலத்தில் ஒருநாழி தெரியாமல்
என்மார்பு சேர்த்தேனடா ..
பதைபதைக்கும் பொன்மேனி பிஞ்சாக எனைத்தழுவ
பித்தேறிப் போனேனடா ..

கார்கண்கள் கிளிக்குயில்கள் கூட்டாகக் கொண்டாடும்
கருணையின் காடாக்கினாய் ..
விரிந்த நெற்றியில் முக்கோடு சுருக்கெடுத்து
மழலையின் மேடாக்கினாய் ..
மூச்சிழுக்கும் மூக்கழகும் முனுமுனுக்கும் இதழழகும்
இரட்டைக் கிளவிகள்தாம் ..
சுற்றிவரும் இவ்வுலகம் இன்பமுற்றிசைப்பதும்
உன்னழகுக் குவியலில்தாம் ..

தேந்துளிரும் எழத்துவங்கும் அதிகாலை அதிசயத்தில்
என்னையேன் எழுப்பினாயோ ..
இருளற்று ஒளிப்படரும் மெலிதான முன்னுரையில்
தன்னழகை தேக்கினாயோ ..
புன்முறுவல் பரிசளித்து பிஞ்சுவிரல் பற்றியேதான்
உறக்கத்தில் உயிர்புகுந்தான் ..
வெண்ணிலாவாம் விண்வேந்தன் என்கையில் கண்ணுறங்க
கதிரவன்தன் கண்திறந்தான் ..

Friday, April 17, 2015

O Kadhal Kanmani - A visual treat for the soul

O Kadhal Kanmani is a romantic feel-good movie that makes one love film making. Maniratnam has handled with deft and caution a variety of subjects in the past - sentiment, violence, melancholy, suspense - and has pushed us into realms of ecstasy or plunged us into horizons of disappointment. But his handling of romance has always brought out the lover in him and the Romeo in us. If one thought it has been in decline, rest assured, for he has rediscovered his mojo in this film. The way he has managed to weave the effect of cupid in threads of practicality, wearing it on the sleeve of time so the story is in sync with its period of enactment, adds an adorning accouterment to his wardrobe of amazing movie productions.

Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menon have enacted a beautiful show of onscreen chemistry that is the crux of romantic film making. There is no restraint, only plenty of love sans inhibition. A typical Maniratnam's heroine, Tara is impulsive and bubbling with enthusiasm. She lives life on its merit, a positive budding architect in urban India with a modern outlook and a set agenda. Capable of taking her decisions and equipped with an extroverted attitude, she is living a high life. Adithya is a video game developer just stepping into the shoes of a big time career and is staring at a rich life ahead. Both want a happy-go-lucky independent future, free of commitments and filled with fun. They fall for each other from the first look - hook, line and sinker. What follows is a harmonious story outlining the discovery of self and togetherness, filled with contentment and beatitude, told with ebullience.

Dulquer comes across as a handsome hero with an enchanting personality. Nithya is shown at her best from scintillating camera angles, her smiles beaming across the big screen and sinking into the hearts of the audience. She owes a lot to the superabundant cinematographic capabilities of P.C. Sreeram, the master of capturing the quintessence of free-flowing young love. At the same time, he miraculously succeeds in attributing a practical next-door feeling about her, shackles unbound. The charming screenplay is well supported by a brilliant background score from his holiness AR Rehman, the tunes becoming instantaneously addictive.

Maniratnam has ventured into the controversial concept of live-in relationships that are yet nascent even to the urban society of India. The facileness with which the house owners, an aged couple (Prakash Raj and Leela Samson) consent to the request is quite unreasonable, but it is in the world of movies after all. And it also later serves the purpose of demonstrating the stability that marriage renders, especially when two grow old together. There is also no screen space to reveal the shock or unpleasantness that sets in when two different people (even in love) start living together, and the resulting friction. But that is in keeping with the theme of the movie - to provide a light weight pragmatic love story. While many may not yet appreciate or even comprehend this freedom two adults have, one cannot still shy away from acknowledging the passion that transcends two souls, pushing them towards one destiny.

The movie flows like a cool breeze picked up over the freshness of the morning mist. There will only be two kinds of reactions to the film - satisfaction and bliss for those who connect with the story, or a plain ordinary platitude for those who don't. But there is no denying that it is a peek into the great man's vintage self, his potential of perceiving the science of subliminal passion and transforming that into a work of art that appeals to all. In O Kadhal Kanmani, Maniratnam has created no Alaipayuthey or Mouna Ragam, but it is a wonderful attempt at romantic positivity. It guarantees a hangover of happiness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

பாரதி

ஒற்றுமையென்றால் என்னென்றறியாத காலத்தே
வேற்றுமையழிக்க சினம் முழங்கிய வீரனே!

உயிர்க் காற்றை சிறிதே சுவாசித்தாலும்,
தமிழ்மூச்சென் உயிர்மூச்சென வாழ்ந்த கவிஞனே!

இன்றைய நிலையென்ன அறிவாயோ?

கால்கீழ் மிதித்திடும் கொடியோ,
அது தாயின் மணிக்கொடி பாரீர் !
ஓங்கி வளர்ந்ததோர் கம்பம், அதை
உயர்த்தி தலைஉடை வாரீர் !!
வெள்ளை நிறமொறு பூனை,
அது நாட்டை கெடுத்திடும் பாரீர் !
சாம்பல் நிறமொறு பூனை,
அது வீட்டை கெடுத்திடும் பாரீர் !!

செந்தமிழ் நாடெனும் போதினிலே, கட்சி
கழகமும் கலகமும் காதினிலே ..
எங்கள் பிந்தையர் நாடெனும் போதினிலே,
இரத்த கண்ணீர் பிறக்குது கண்களிலே ..

அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்பதில்லையே ..
உச்சிமீது காசுவாங்கி வீடுகட்டும் போதினும்,
இச்சையின்றி கொச்சையாக கப்பம்கட்டும் போதினும்,
துச்சமாக எண்ணி மண்ணின் தலையெடுத்த போதினும்,
பிச்சைவாங்கி உண்ணும் வாழ்க்கை பெற்றுவிட்ட போதினும்,
அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்பதில்லையே ..
அரசினோடு சரசமிட்டால் அச்சமென்பதில்லையே!!

ஓ பாரதியே!

சுயாட்சிக்கு முன்,
கை நீட்டி குற்றம் சொல்ல வெள்ளையனிருந்தான்.
சுயாட்சிக்கு பின்,
எந்த கொள்ளையனையெதிர்த்து யாம் கவிதை செய்வது?

எம்மால் முடியாது பாரும்,
நீரே மறுபடி வாரும்,
மண்ணின் கோலத்தைக் காணும்,
மீசை துடித்திட பாடும்!!

Happy Birthday
- Sravan.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You tell me how Anna Hazare is correct

You tell me how Anna Hazare is correct. You tell me how fasting is non-violent.

During the first stage body eats from liver glycogen and muscle protein supplements, second stage takes off fat and body proteins, third stage causes hair fall and renal failure, and fourth stage causes non-recoverable ailments or death. Your body eats itself inside out, albeit slowly, till it has nothing else to eat. Multiple organs start to fail one-by-one, causing liver and kidney failure, eventually leading to coma and ultimately death. Which part of this is non-violent?

Is violence only in blood? Should the brain spurt out or should the stomach gash if you need to deem it violent? Is it acceptable if I put someone in a room without food or water, so he dies a slow death? Will you go to Jantar Mantar and claim loudly "Hey, remember there is no blood, so he cannot be booked"? Are you OK with that and call it a non-violent death?

Is violence only when done to others and not self-inflicted? Would you go humpty-dumpty on a march supporting me if I threaten the government that I am going to put myself on fire in 10 days in full public view in Jantar Mantar in the national capital, if the country's demands are not met? Or would you come in masses to the Tihar jail because the Government arrested me for fear of a backlash or violence? Remember, the only guy talking about non-violence there is Anna Hazare. If the situation goes out of control, you and me are not going to sit down taking the Lathi Charge. Gone are those days of the British, we will fight back and won't hesitate to draw blood, for we are all animals inside and only then human outside. We are not capable of saying a sorry to the guy we accidentally brush on the road with our car. We don't mind spitting on the road. So we won't sit there and protest in a non-violent way if things go wrong.

Let Anna Hazare fast next to me for 10 days. I will eat sitting next to him for the same 10 days, and then set myself on fire because the Jan Lokpal bill is not exectued the only way I want, paying no heed to the constitutional limitations or alternatives. Would that make me any less a martyr? I die a quick death, he dies a slow death, but it's death after all for the same cause. And none else did it, both of us do it to ourselves. Would you all come and support me and pour kerosene on me? If your answer is no, then you have absolutely no hell-of-a-damn right to go on a march supporting someone else's fast. Remember you are taking full responsibility for someone's death when you are doing that.

This is probably the biggest stage we have got so far to talk about corruption. Why is no-one talking about the practice of giving bribes? This should also be talked about in all the marches and candle vigils. Now that we have mobilized so many activists, why not take government offices one by one on a weekly basis, declare them as corruption-free zone, station ourselves there in groups and advise the common man coming there not to pay bribes? If one knows everyone else is not paying a bribe, no-one is going to pay it. No givers means no takers. It cannot be stopped from a personal front whereas a mass-motive is needed. Corruption is a two-edged sword, corrective measures are needed on the giver's side too. If you would go join the movement on a Saturday morning, march all the way, come back home, eat your dinner and pay that bribe in the RTO office on Monday so you could get to office early - Corruption cannot be stopped with a thousand Lokpal bills. Stop the giver, punish the taker.

So, could someone please explain how fasting is democratic and non-violent? Or how is it not blackmail when you are holding the government to ransom? On a personal note, I have no take on the Lokpal bill, because I don't know my country's law or constitution. It's probably correct, but with a few necessary modifications to follow the constitutional laws. Remember no-one is above the constitution. But don't sucker me saying fasting is non-violent. It is extremely violent, utterly non-democratic and a full-sense blackmail! And I have absolute regret for the only fellow dying out there. You guys are eating, right?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stateful and Stateless Condition Checks

if(cond1 && cond2)
{
object.setState(true);
}

is not the same as:

object.setState(cond1 && cond2);

The second block sets the state of the object to true if both "cond1" and "cond2" are true, else it sets state to false. Either way, the state of the object is altered and the previous state is lost.

The first block sets the state of the object to true if both "cond1" and "cond2" are true, else IT DOES NOTHING. The state of the object is not altered otherwise.

There is a small difference, and it hurts.

PS: Why did I share this? Just so you know. As Senthil says, "Inpormason .. is .. wealth"