Sunday, December 25, 2005

Varsham - A neat movie

Being in US, one might not get to watch English movies, but Telugu movies, you get in abundance. I happened to watch the Telugu movie, Varsham, which is a Trisha starrer. Not an out of the world movie, but good enough to spend two and a half hours without boredom! The songs were certainly catchy and no wonder did it become a musical hit. I don't want to talk more about the movie and in any case, I am planning to keep my reviews short in future. With the number of movies I am watching everyday, I guess I have lost the patience to write pages and pages of the same old stuff about movies!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

BCCI selection committee a big joke!

Anything in the world makes logical sense but for the selection committee of the Indian cricket team. Kiran More guffaws and grins as if he is going to talk something wise for the first time in his life and almost invariably answers the media with a clownish, indecipherable and a worthless comment with absolutely no sense of maturity. Sourav Ganguly is dropped from the squad for the third test at Ahmedabad against the Sri Lankans and More attributes it to developing a squad for the future. Ok! Everything sounds fine! What does the selection committe do after a week? The BCCI president Sharad Pawar meets every Tom, Dick and Harry to set things right and finally Lo and Behold, Sourav Ganguly finds his place in the elite squad to Pakistan. Now how does More defend himself : We need stability in the middle order! Oh my God! Can it get worse? What a remark! The richest sporting body in the world selects a team to an all-important tour of Pakistan based on the whims and fancies of a few irresponsible individuals. How does the goalkeeper Parthiv Patel fit in the scheme of things? How the hell can he find a place in the squad? He is the player because of whom we lost a chance to win the Sydney test match against the Australians and an overseas series win against the Aussies for the first time. Maybe he really motivates the bowlers. Obviously, the bowlers toil for 14-15 wickets in a match instead of the normal 10 thanks to Parthiv's genius behind the stumps. He would have made a great goalkeeper and his misfit in the team was easily noticeable, but obviously he is from Gujarat, and More too!! But, fortunately More didn't make a statement : Parthiv is in the team since he is from Gujarat!

Friday, December 23, 2005


My all time favourite poem and certainly, Kipling's most famous poem! A poem to get me out of the dumps! This poem was written by him with his only son in mind who he lost to war. He has carved a masterpiece that will be there for generations to come!

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Why does she still sing?

Listening to the song Tere bina zindagi se koi shikhwa from the movie Aandhi, one gets transported to an ethereal world. This song is rendered to perfection by the melody perfectionists Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. The song has that enchanting appeal and one can compare the contrast in the songs of today's cinema. I have listened to this song innumerable times, and each time, the song renders a new meaning and neatly fills my heart with solace. This album has awesome tracks sung by the duo. The track Tum aa gaye ho is another piece that can take the listener to dizzy heights. Gulzaar's lyrics makes it a perfect combination of a great musical.

Fast forward to today's cinema. Lata Mangeshkar renders her voice to some meaningless movies like Dil to pagal hai, veer zaara, mohabbatein and other terrible movies. Lata's hoarse voice makes us wonder where has she lost that wonderful voice? Obviously she can't render the same perfection in today's musical. What beats me is why should she continue singing today? She definitely has lost that charismatic appeal in that voice. In any field one should always bow out with dignity, and I certainly don't want to relive my days listening to the latest crap of music from Lata's voice.

Let's see how much more of nauseating music is in store for us from Lata Mangeshkar!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Back to blogs!

After a rather hectic fortnight of exams and projects, it is time to spend the holidays with books, movies and blogs. Not that I was missing out on the movies. I have watched quite a lot of them since the purchase of the Pioneer home theater system. Its been quite a list of movies.

The Apocalypse now
Basic Instinct
Ram Balaram
Teesri Manzil
City of God
The Bourne Identity
Hyderabad Blues
The Legend of Bhagat Singh

and with many more to come...

All in all, a good fortnight that I am looking forward to!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Lara and Tendulkar

On a day when one of the world's best batsmen, Brian Lara faced yet another delivery from one of the world's best bowlers, Glenn Mcgrath, history was meant to be rewritten. The fascinating duels between these two has been a treat for the billions of viewers worldwide. It is a different matter that Mcgrath has dismissed him most number of times in Test cricket(15 in total) and it is altogether a different issue that Lara has dominated the Australian bowling attack many a times in the past decade. It is sheer destiny that Lara had to break Allan Border's record for most test runs in Australia against Australia, and by clipping Mcgrath for a single on the onside. Lara's feat today is a result of his stylish dominance over almost all bowlers in the world. The class and style evoked by the master is evident by that stylish backlift when he pulls the fast bowlers through the on-side piercing the gaps with ease. Lara can be attributed to have been gifted with a priceless sense of timing.

Now talks on Lara reminds us of another great batsmen of the era, the Indian prodigy - Sachin Tendulkar. The Bombay bomber is in a league of his own and has dominated bowlers in ruthless fashion. Playing for 16 years is no joke at the international level and he might be the next one in the line to break Lara's record. He will definitely perch himself in a level that would be impossible for the others to overtake in a jiffy. Considering the number of years he has left in him, one can expect a lot from the Indian master blaster. So, this inevitably leads us to the question - Lara or Tendulkar? Let's stack up the stats!!

Lara has played 121 matches and has raked in 11,000 odd runs surpassing Allan Border. He is three short of the world record of the number of centuries. He has an average and figures that do not interest me. We can similarly raise nice figures for Tendulkar to make his resume look good. There are some innings where both the players have beaten the scruff out of the opposition.

Some innings I cherish

1) I vividly remember the first test at Madras in the 1998 Australia tour of India. Shane Warne dismisses Sachin for 4 in the first innings and Australia take a crucial 80 odd runs lead. The second innings witnessed Sachin at his blistering best, a sold 155* against a high quality pace and spin Australian attack. The Australians were blasted out into the black hole created by the Master.

2) A match against Pakistan peps up any Indian fan, and it is easy to imagine how much of a pressure the cricketers of both sides will have to put up with. Madras match again. Sachin notched up an innings of very high quality by putting up 136 runs, a match which saw India go down by 16 runs. This is where one can notice the key difference between him and Lara. Lara generally ends up finishing the match for the West Indies.

3) World Cup 2003 : Team India had to chase 274 runs in The Centurion and Shoaib Akhtar had said in the pre-match reports that he planned to target Tendulkar. But by the first over, the equations had reversed. Tendulkar demolished Akhtar out of the attack by taking 18 runs in his first over. Akhtar and Pakistan were devastated. That was full flurry unleashed.

4) I think it was the 1996 test series against South Africa in South Africa. The touring Indian team had a terrible team under Tendulkar's captaincy. It was the second test match of the series. He wilted an aggressive South African bowling comprising Allan Donald at his best, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Fanie de Villiers. He scored a brilliant 169 at the Cape Town test and also shared a fantastic stand with Mohammed Azharuddin. Sachin also scored in similar fashion about five years later when India again toured South Africa, but this time scoring a superb 155 in the company of his disciple Virender Sehwag.

5) How can anyone forget the Sharjah Innings where he single handedly destroyed Australia in one of the most ripping innings in ODI!

Now coming to Lara,

1) A scathing 277 in SCG in 1992 against an Australian attack which boasted of Craig McDermott and Shane Warne. Most of the Cricket Pundits rate this as one of the greatest ever Test Innings of all time.

2) The BridgeTown test match where he single handedly takes West Indies to victory from the jaws of defeat. WI are 105/5 (as always) and chasing a target of 308 in the fourth Innings against the best team of the era, Lara single handedly plucks the match right in front of the Aussies' nose. WI won the match by a wicket and one still remembers the two balls that Courtney Walsh had to face from Glenn Macgrath. Lara had done it again!

3) The innings of 375 and 400 against England where in the first of the two, he creates a world record and in the next he reclaims the world record.

4) The 2003 World Cup where Lara launches an assault of terrific quality against the much hyped South Africans in the inaugural match. His hundred took WI to a victory against all odds. In an earlier instance, in the 1996 edition, he similarly defied a much superior South African bowling attack in the quarter finals to bring up a sensational victory.

Talking about both these players, one can go on and on about the skill and prowess both of them possess. It is a delight to watch the maestros bat. But at the end of the day, after unearthing the statistics and after inevitable comparisons, it seems that Tendulkar has never won a match when the chips are down. He might have gone on to play a big innings but it was somebody else who had to finish it off in the end, unlike Lara who single handedly battles it out in the crease. But both of them give their best against the Australians. It remains to be seen what the future beckons from the blades of two of the brightest stars in world cricket.

PS : Please don't ask me how in the world I had the time to compose a big one!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Eden Gardens clean bowls India

A big match in Eden Gardens, Calcutta is generally a moment to savour. But what happened on 25 November, 2005 is really hard to take. Most of the Indians would like to forget what happened that day not because of the terrible all-round performance by the Indians but because of the way the crowd pulled its weight in South Africa's favour. Come on! One can't support the opposition just because your state player is not playing for the country. The truth is Sourav Ganguly did not deserve a placed in the one day squad going by his current form. Current form! He has been going through a bad patch for the last two years. What more does he expect from the selectors? But, what does Calcutta do? It shows its disappointment by ridiculing the home team and applauding the visitors. There is definitely nothing wrong in applauding the opposition's performance but why turn hostile to a team that you have been supporting for the last how many ever years.

It is a funny story. Calcutta turns hostile because one of its favourite sons is discarded from the team. Does that mean they are doing a favour by turning hostile to the others. It was a shame to see such a crowd in the best sporting ground in the country. It was the same crowd that reacted badly to Sri Lanka's semi final loss in the 1996 World Cup. These were the same guys who cut loose when Tendulkar was given out in controversial circumstances in the Asia cup test match against Pakistan at the very venue. So, where did they lose all the patriosm in a jiffy? In any case, I don't mean to justify the earlier actions from the crowd, but it just goes to show how things change drastically in such a short span of time. Sachin, Hai Hai and Dravid Murdabad are not the kind of reactions you expect from this cricket frenzy crowd. It certainly leaves a bad taste in front of the international community. If this is the case, there should have been riots in Bangalore when Rahul Dravid was dropped from the one day squad for a year in the late nineties. What about VVS Laxman? Hyderabad crowd should have indulged in mountain throwing (not just stone throwing!!) at the Indian players.

It is the overall interests of the team that have to be kept in mind rather than single out individuals. Sourav Ganguly has been a great player and a great skipper, but that is past as no player can rest on past laurels. One has to consistently perform at the international level to cement a place in the team. An Eden Gardens match is as exciting for the spectators as for the players. This may be the first time that an Indian team was dreading to play on one of its favourite turfs. It would have given a lot of jitters to the team to be hounded like this. I bet they wouldn't mind playing a match even in Karachi for nothing can get worse than this!

Luckily I did not get to see the match. As such, it was disgusting to see the reports in all the news sites. One match not worth remembering!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Salaam Namaste - Offbeat

A subject that has not been dealt effectively finally finds its way into the folds of Hindi cinema. It depends on the viewer's take on live in relationship. A simple story of a couple(not a married one) staying together just to find out whether they can be compatible in the future or not forms the backdrop of this movie.

Writing a review on Salaam Namaste at this point may not serve a lot of purpose for others, since I guess most of them would have watched the movie by now. But I had the opportunity to watch it after a considerable time thanks to the India Association here. As always, my punctuality deserts me at such moments and I arrived at the Physics seminar hall a good fifteen minutes late. But the good thing about Indian movies is that the viewer can follow the story from any given point. It doesn't matter whether one is fifteen minutes late or an hour late!

It is about two people, Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan, who have divergent set of views and though both of them lead their lives with different ideologies, have mutual feelings for each other. Saif is pretty keen on a long term relationship with Preity, though the latter is very doubtful of the both of them striking good chemistry. So, they decide to live in together for a few days and then see how the relationship takes shape before deciding to tie the nuptial knot. The early days goes on brilliantly before a series of events force both of them to decide whether they are making the right moves.

Now, to watch such a hindi movie after a lot of repetitive, cliched and boring themes leaves us with a pretty good feeling. It is not the run-of-the-mill movie where the hero and the heroine are running around trees and then finally decide to come together at all odds. The subject here is quite touchy and the director(I missed the credits. Remember I was fifteen minutes late!!) has done a good job to portray such a theme with ease. When most of the movies flash the The End message on the screen as soon as the hero and the heroine get together, here the movie ends once the two of them have stabilised their relationship after showing the viewers the pros and cons of a relationship. It is never easy to direct a movie of such a controversy prone subject(Kushboo and Suhasini can tell how controversial this is), but at the end of the day, a nice message is conveyed. But inspite of all that, the movie could have ended on serious overtones instead of getting meaningless comedy elements interleaved in the ending. It was totally disgusting to see Abhishek Bachchan(yes it is Abhishek in a guest appearance) wield his role as a doctor and that too with some slapstick comedy that was irritating.

Saif and Preity have done a terrific job. Dil Chahta Hai has made a big difference to Saif and he seems to fit any role to perfection with his good acting skills and he is one of those few actors these days who has a perfect sense of timing in comedy sequences. He makes it look really casual. Preity is as cherubic as ever, displaying lots of enthusiasm and energy, and springing to life with gaiety. Her display of emotions is truly commendable. It is not one of those movies where the actress has got just a job of pleasing the hero with her song and dance ability. She has a clearly defined role in the movie and plays it to laudable limits. Arshad Warsi, as Saif's friend in the movie, has played a good supporting role. He is the favourite of the masses after his fantastic role in Munna Bhai MBBS and here too, he does not let anyone down with his acting skills. Javed Jaffrey has been roped in for a very small role and I did not find anything exciting about his comedy. The songs are pretty lively and the cinematography is excellent capturing the picturesque locations of Austraila very well.

Overall a decent Hindi movie to watch and the offbeat theme breaks the dull lullaby of the old fashioned themes so often repeated in Hindi cinema.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Comedy unplugged!

Five days of holidays to look forward to is great, considering the kind of crammed schedule we have to put up with. We decided to spend the evening watching one of everyone's alltime favourite movies, Michael Madana Kamarajan. It was a long time since I had watched this movie and it was real fun to catch up with the old times again!! On any day, it is better to watch an old movie than risk watching a new meaningless movie and so we decided to go ahead with this entertaining Kamal classic.

A laugh riot

Seeing Michael Madana Kamarajan for the nth time does not give the viewer the chance to change his opinion on the movie. One Kamal Hassan is more than enough in a movie, but what do you do when you are put up with four Kamal Hassans for three hours. You just put up with him in glee!! There are some movies where you just hope the movie ends within the first ten minutes of the start, but MMK is totally different. At the end of the movie, the reaction is Oh! The movie has got over! This movie was released in the year 1990, but almost 15 years later, the movie can still be glorified for its comedy.

I will not be delving into the details of the movie. Obviously, everyone should have seen the movie more than once. It is about four sons Michael, Madan, Kameswaran and Raju who get separated at birth due to a conspiracy hatched by their father's brother. The movie basically deals with the tryst of the four brothers in various situations and how they come out unscathed to get together in the end. Kamal Hassan, as Kameswaran is a delight with his Malayali accent. His encounters with Urvashi and her paati(grandma) is a treat to watch. That particular sequence where a fish falls into a sambar in an Iyer aam(house) keeps the viewers in splits. The dialogues etched for that scene is unforgettable. I mean It is too good! Urvashi's oodles of talent is well captured, and no wonder Kamal Hassan speaks highly of her in any interview. Delhi Ganesh, as Kamal's father has done a little cameo. He is such a gifted actor that he fits in a role to sublime ease.

Kamal, as Michael plays a local goon and Madan is a multi-millionaire Kamal. Madan's personal secretary as well as friend is the Bheema of Mahabharata fame. Bhim boy is characterised in a peculiarly funny way, totally different from the angry young man we see in Mahabharata. Nagesh, as the corrupt secretary dons his role to perfection. The final Kamal is Raju, who is a part of the fire brigade. Roopini, Kushboo and Manorama have done a good job as supporting actresses, but it is Uravashi who steals the show with her dynamic prowess.

Kamal of course as expected steals the show. The supporting cast is excellent too. Every actor enacts his role to a nicety. Coming to the dialogues of the movie, Crazy Mohan has come up with unbeatable dialogues. There is not an iota of doubt when he is acknowledged to be the best dialogue writer in Tamil cinema. Ilayaraja's music is highly commendable. Isaignani's music fits perfectly in the movie. The sundari neeyum.. song and its picturisation is the highlight of the movie. Singeetham Srinivasa Rao has crafted a lot of movies with Kamal and the duo share a special rapport that has seen them come up with a number of hits - Apoorva Sahodarargal, Pushpaka Vimana, and Mumbai Express to an extent.

If merry making is the mantra, watch this movie to beat any time blues!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The divine being

I sat back today on a real sleepy afternoon not knowing what to do. The film songs and the western musical appeared to fade away in pale insignificance. I wanted something different to recharge my batteries. A gloomy weather is no sign of an active mind. Lethargy grasped firmly in my mind, not allowing me to come out of its clasps. Then, I decided Why not listen to MS? By the way, I assume that everyone knows who MS is, because even a kid ought to know who she is. M S Subbulakshmi of course!!! A half an hour's worth of ethereal music transferred me to the highest echeleon of happiness and peace. Hanuman Chalisa, in praise of Lord Hanuman and Vishnu Sahasranamam, in praise of Lord Vishnu left me spellbound. That was divine incarnation singing. I can still recollect the face in my mind - the large kumkum on her forehead signifying the very embodiment of compassion and peace. She had captivated the billions of people around the world with that magical voice that could lighten your mood and gladden your heart. The only Indian to fill the corridors of the United Nations with her voice, she had achieved what one can only dream of in a lifetime. I don't know any other singer whose voice remained as good as that, even in the late eighties. Her death marked the end of an era, where she dominated right from start to end. It was domination even her competitors must have cherished. But then, who could compete with MS? Her sublime eternal voice fills every Indian household early in the morning to the enchanting Suprabhatam. MS, a once in a lifetime phenomenon, is not human art but divine grace perpetuated in her being.

Rahman(was) at his best?

On a cold saturday evening, just before going to the University, my friend and I were shuffling with the IPod hoping to hear some good music. The speakers came to life with one of Rahman's greatest muscial Pudhu vellai mazhai from Roja. That's when we had the discussion - Can Rahman ever recreate the magic of Roja? Roja was his first musical and this prodigious talent was identified by another versatile genius - Mani Ratnam. The combination has worked magic ever since, but inspite of a host of other movies for which they joined together - Iruvar, Thiruda Thiruda, Dil Se, Kannathil Muthamittal, Alai Payuthey and Ayutha Ezhuthu, none could come upto the expectations of Roja. Of course, these movies have fantastic music compositions and some of my favourites. Rahman has always delivered the best for Mani Ratnam, but the problem is that his first movie has surged ahead in such dynamic proportions that anything else from Rahman is only considered not even a close but a distant second best.

Roja had the freshness of life. Be it the jingles of Chinna Chinna aasai, or the foot tapping Rukumani Rukumani, or SPB's Kadhal Rojave, Rahman had broken the myth of conservative music. Undoubtedly the best song of the album, Pudhu vellai mazhai, people never knew that such good music could be juxtaposed in cinematic sequences. The music was an instant hit amidst the masses. Rahman had brought out the highest quality of music one could imagine. The cinematography accompanying the musical was nothing short of exemplary.

No wonder, my friend, when he talks of the latest Rahman compositions, he says, Come on! This is nowhere near Roja! That was the first Tamil movie I had seen in the theatre with family and friends simply because of the music. Today Rahman's standards have declined. He is not able to come anywhere close to what he was before.

In a way, my friend may be right, but then you can't get a Roja out of every movie. Definitely, some of Rahman's latest musical have been forgettable. There was a time when only one song in Rahman's album would not be upto the standards but today such songs are increasing in his album. The problem today is everybody is trying to emulate Rahman and that's making Rahman look as if he is getting repetitive. Every person has a Once in a lifetime experience, and Rahman had it in the first instant. Going by my friend, Rahman was at his best for only a single movie in that case!!

Lastly to quote my friend, If Rahman can come up with a composition of Roja's stature atleast once in ten movies, that would be great!

Obviously that would be great, but can Rahman do it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Global Capitalism

The mail in my inbox read Dr. Andrew Bernstein of the Ayn Rand Institute will be speaking on the topic of global capitalism... I had no second thoughts. I am attending this seminar. I did not even know who Dr Andrew Bernstein was, but his affiliation to the Ayn Rand institute was more than enough to motivate me. Having read The Fountainhead, and in the process of reading Atlas Shrugged, I did not need a second invitation.

Let me tell you something. The motivation levels to attend a seminar at 7PM at the Havener Center is no joke what with the temperature tending to sub zero levels. The walk from the department to the Havener center and then back to the department chills. I was one of the thirty odd guys to be present in the hall. The talks on Capitalism was not on an economic point of view alone, but on the fact that how different parts of the world are in a better position today thanks to capitalism. He said how the Asian power houses are emerging due to the advocacy of capitalism. The per capita income shot to a new high in the last fifty years in Japan, China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and many other countries. He particularly talked about the entrepreneurship friendly policy of the government of Hong Kong, because of which the number of small scale industries sky rocketed. Even in Europe, apart from Russia - mainly Stalin's policies, there were many countries whose economic growth received a staggering boost due to capitalism. Poland, on this front, reaped the benefits. Of all continents, it is Africa that has to shed its confined policies and wake up from the slumber. There were many such examples that kept the seminar going for more than an hour. At the end he concluded with, if one has to support capitalism, then there has to be the following things

  • Members from one country should be able to trade with members of the other country without any restrictions
  • People should speak about the positives of capitalism
  • Freedom to chose what you want - If you are getting a product from a store that offers less price, one is obviously drawn to that store

At the end of the seminar, there was the Q & A session and I wasn't too surprised when there were a host of questions from the audience. One of them asked How do we draw a line to curb capitalism if it is affecting the environment? The United Nations has set up a committee and a panel of environmentalists to look into the effects of Global Warming. What about that? The reply was I believe neither the UN nor the environmentalists. Man is way below nature when it comes to inflicting the nature. We do not have the power to tamper with the laws of nature. Economic growth is in no way related to the environment. We should promote industries in a big way and environment cannot be affected by something as miniscule as that. There are more damaging issues in the world. There should be a committee that has to be set up to study the occurence of earthquakes, sandstorms and tsunamis, where millions of lives are lost every year. There were other questions Should there be government intervention on setting up of new industries to study its bane since human lives are to be given paramount importance? What should be the role of such regulatory bodies? How come USA has a huge growth since the government is not entirely capitalistic? Is it possible that the great depression in Europe could have been indirectly due to capitalism?

I would have loved it had there been an environmentalist too. That would have added spice to the seminar. It would have been a classic contest between a full fledged supporter of capitalism and an anti-industrialist(rather an environmentalist)!

Given a good time frame, there might have been lot more questions except that he had to catch a flight from St. Louis early morning the next day. He said Those of you who haven't read the Atlas Shrugged, great! It is like a virgin waiting for it. Grab a copy!

If you want to know more about Dr Andrew Bernstein, you can visit

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The night of 13th November, 2005

I am sure nobody has any doubts regarding the popularity of India's most celebrated festival - Deepavali. Also called Diwali, it brings with it a fervour of activity and bliss all around. The whole of India gets ready to cash the excitement and goodwill that percolates slowly. India is secular by all right and Diwali takes the flavour of secularism to new heights. A festival that cuts across all religious barriers, whiffing past all caste, creed and colour, generating an atmosphere of agog is Diwali. In India, the preparations for the big festival start well in advance, and it is a time for happiness for everyone. Everyone has his own way of raking in the moolah to cash in on the good times!

Now, how do things change when you are abroad? Here in Rolla, the Diwali night is almost the biggest festival. People in and around Rolla gather in large numbers to witness the gloss associated with the event. This year, we had the Diwali Nite on 13th Nov, 2005. The auditorium was booked well in advance and the seating capacity of 700 looks miniscule considering the number of people who want a seat in the large atria.

The Indian student community is at the frenzy of activity with almost everyone trying to chip in, in some form or the other to be a part of such a large event. The cultural night has all the ingredients of an enjoyable evening - music shows, dance performances, presentations of the four corners of India, fireworks and not to forget the most important thing - fantastic Indian cuisine.

The food is cooked for about 750 people by the students. The cooking goes on for about two days and it was fascinating to perform the various permutations and combinations to add the right ingredients. To list the food items,

Gajar Halwa

Vegetarian dishes
Dum Aloo Kashmiri
Paneer Makhanwala
Jeera Rice
Vegetable Biriyani
Pineapple Raitha

Non-vegetarian dishes
Spicy chicken curry
Chicken biriyani

All this well supported by Butter Naan.

Certainly, this is enough to stimulate your taste buds! The food items were an instant hit with people coming back for multiple helpings to quench their hunger for good Indian food. Overall it was a fun filled night, and certainly the right occasion to get together to showcase India. Writing this blog and selecting the photos was a huge effort for me, what with having to take only 5-6 photos from around 600 pictures!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Break the shackles...

As my friend exposed me to the world of Pink Floyd, there were a couple of songs that really blew me apart - Turning away and Learning to Fly. Obviously, I was inspired to come up with my own version if not in a big way! Thanks Pravin (he shares my name but with a different spelling)!

A world that has become rhetoric,
With farce so often justified,
No real ways to come out with the truth,
Hope you don’t follow the line!

Dropping words that are only mystified,
Neither enlightening nor commendable,
Living with hidden traits and an individuality,
Losing its value over a period of time!

A non-existent peace of mind; where to find,
A sense of belonging lost; you are in a coterie,
Live to appease, but how long?
When are you coming out of the deja-vu?

A fixed pattern that is close to your heart,
It does require a lot of will to change,
You are in to herald a bright future,
A future not to be wilted, witness the sheen!

A long way to go, to face the world,
It is so easy to live the rest blurred,
You just have to break the shackles,
Live to leave an everlasting legacy!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


In deep retrospection or rather introspection, I had a flurry of thoughts hitting me. This was just the right time to translate my thoughts to words!

It was the time of kings,
When there weren't many a thing,
A life full of joy and peace,
Every reason to feel at ease!

Today, the days of democracy,
Where life is getting crazy,
Many a people in the race,
To run the country through a maze!

In the darbar, subjects and ministers,
Many a talks, but none sinister,
A clear solution fell in place,
There was a feeling of solace!

Today, a mess of all sorts,
Leading a life full of torts,
Everyone fighting for fame,
But none to share the blame!

Those were the days,
When law had its say,
Morals and values formed the core,
People followed it without a sore!

Today, people have no time,
Anything other than a dime is a crime,
Morals and values today a sore,
Dime, dime and dime form the core!

True values have lost its meaning,
It is upto us to relive the feelings,
Of honesty, trust and mutual respect
Before it is wiped out; the last speck;

Friday, November 04, 2005

Masala Dosai....The most I miss!

Wow! Imagine the crispy nei(ghee) roast filled with ullakazhangu(potato) curry or more commonly called the masala coated with a layer of melting butter in your mouth. Whoa! What a feeling! The feeling itself paralyses me for a moment. Nothing in the world can beat the delicate roll of a masala dosai. Get me the dishes - burgers, pizzas, enchiladas, burritos.... I am sure nothing can come close to this most famous South Indian dish. The crunchy masala dosai gives a feeling of immense satisfaction and pleasure as it finds its way through the esophagus, conveying the dosai from the pharynx to the stomach ( I think I remember some Biology). Inevitably, back in India, a weekly bout of four-five masala dosais used to find its way into my stomach. Any hotel, any place, the dish used to be dosai. I am reminded of the number of new darshinis(stand-in restaurants) lining up the streets every other day. One place that stands out for fantastic masala dosais is Central Tiffin Room (Shree Sagar). This place is located on Margosa Road in Malleswaram just opposite the play ground. An old, green building is no indication of the delicacies served inside. An evening stroll with friends, and we would invariably land up in this wonderful place and gobble up the offerings in delight. The ambience of the place was such that you can sit with friends and talk for a long time over a plate of Dosai and Sambar. I used to like this place all the more because of the green chutney that used to accompany the plate of Dosai, coconut chutney and sambar. The best part was to wait for the bearer to get the dosai after you have placed the order. Those few minutes were often spent in the direction of the kitchen. It was like waiting for eternity. And when you are hungry, no need to mention how much the wait is worth. Oh! When is it going to come! What a feeling! The discussions gradually used to subside once we saw the plates of dosas balanced beautifully by the bearer, and for the next few minutes, there used to be no talks but only the pleasure of stimulating your taste buds.

My mother often used to reprimand me after a masala dosai fiesta....Don't tell me you had masala dosai again! Now.......I am not sure when I am going to have the next dosai, let alone masala dosai. How I wish my mother can scold me for having masala dosais! For a dosai freak, there can't be a worse punishment!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ghajini - Oh God!

A remake of a movie is great as long as it suits the masses. Ghajini is supposed to be a hit, atleast according to the innumerable reviews that has been posted everywhere. What is unfathomable is, how can a movie that defies the basic elements of logic can go on to be a hit? There were just too many illogical moments in the movie, that the whole two and a half hours was left so incomplete.

The four of us had planned to watch this movie for almost a month, and after a steely resolve, we decided to watch it yesterday (luckily one guy couldn't make it!). We had a lot of expectations from the movie. Obviously, people were going ga-ga over this madness. I wouldn't want to narrate the entire plot and relive those three hours of absolute torture. It is supposed to be adapted from a good English movie - The Memento. Of course, there is the addition of these comedy scenes and melodrama. All is fine! Ok coming to the story...Surya is a rich entrepreneur running a cellular service provider - Air Voice. He receives the Entrepreneur of the year award and his photos get splashed across every other magazine in the country. Asin is into featuring in ad films and accidently gives an interview that she is in a relationship with Surya. The story fills the tabloids with photos of Asin and Surya. Their future encounters are supposed to be funny. Sury meets Asin and she does not even realise who the genius is. Doesn't it sound foolhardy? Asin doesn't know about it, the members of the crew don't have a clue about it and I guess nobody seems to have an idea of this wonderful entrepreneur. The audience is supposed to roll with laughter! Due to the subsequent turn of events, Surya suffers from memory loss. He gets to remember only the last fifteen minutes and so he figures out what has to be done through a sequence of pictures. The ending is even more disastrous, as there is a particular scene where Nayanthara gets chased by an entire factory of workers. Oops, I forgot! Nayanthara is a medical college student who should have actually been a detective!

Everything is fine in a movie as long as the logic is not buried. Nobody cares little if the hero of a movie jumps fifteen floors, goes bungee jumping from the first floor or wafts through a tornado, but atleast you got to have some common sense as far as the screenplay is concerned. If there is a defect in the script, it just doesn't help anybody's cause. Surya, as usual has done a wonderful job as far as the acting is concerned. Asin looks pretty and her performance is neat. The less I talk about Nayanthara the better. She was really irritating to watch. Just can't figure out where she put those oodles of fat after Chandramukhi. The screenplay is terrible. The music is too repetitive. I think Harris Jeyaraj has to figure out something new to keep his fans going. Or he has to stop trying to emulate A R Rahman. A R Murugadoss, I am sure must have been impressed by the English movie and it just amazes me how cleverly(!!!) he has adapted to the Tamil masses.

At the end of the movie, we were over and out. We did not have any adjectives to slam the movie. The theme is great but the interweaving elements were miserable. One of my friends rightly summed it up at the end of the movie, I hope I have a memory loss of what happened in the last three hours.

A small world

Part I
I met him in a pretty middle class restaurant at Sai Shakti, Malleswaram, Bangalore. A restaurant that gives a feel of a home with its simple menu and reasonable good price. In front of me was a gentleman, who looked very simple in this simple ambience. What a setting! I was in no mood to strike a conversation with anybody. I was more concerned about my US trip at that point of time. By the way, it was about a month before I got my visa. So, obviously, I had a lot of things running in my head. I was involved in decision making and to be honest, I take quite a long time in taking decisions. As I was gazing in wilderness, I had a voice calling me. I realised that the gentleman sitting in front of me was calling and I had no clue in the world as to who he was. But we struck an instant chord. He was a friendly person, and his experience in life is my age. We chatted about a lot of things. And before I forget to mention his name. He is Mr Mallikarjuna H P, General Secretary, Dedicated Servants Association. The talks ranged over a lot of topics - education, politics and socio-economic issues. That's the end of Part I.

Part II
I had mailed him recently to tell him about my progress in the United States. He told me that he is currently in Dallas with his son and daughter in law. I was only too happy to talk to him again. He was pleased to know about my current status here. We spoke for a long time in Kannada and I also had the opportunity to talk with his family. It is always strange how bonding develops in another country. The mutual love and respect among fellow countrymen is totally different than what is there in the native country. We met, we spoke and we jelled. But the fun is we do the same things, but in different part of the world.

One can just not imagine the global village being transformed into a small world, but the truth is out there or here!

Pretty bad evening!

Sometimes you take sad decisions. After a long wait and much anticipation we decided to watch a movie and Ghajini it had to be. The seemless torture for about three hours filled us with agony for having watched such a meaningless cinema. Imagine leaving your studies, research work, assignments and discussions to watch a movie which leaves a bad taste in the end. But then, not all movies are good (unfortunately!!!)....

Waiting to watch another movie, nevertheless!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Happy B'day Praveen!

Place : Rolla, MO

Even though it is a pretty late post, I think the blame shouln't fall on me. I was waiting for the birthday pics before I could post my entry on this. If you are wondering what this is all about, this date happens to be my birthday. It was not a great birthday eve. I had sickness creeping in the late evening. A bout of cold along with mild fever made me take some home made Kashayam, courtesy my roommate Ramaprasad! I called up home and some of the relatives, and was flat out by 9:30 in the night. I later realised being dragged from my mattress and Lo and Behold, there were the 1300 dacoits waiting for me with colas and honey glazed buns. I received the birthday wishes from everybody, but then every fun element is associated with spanking. Yeps! receiving birthday bumps from all quarters and from a set of desperate guys to kick somebody at anytime is no joke. Believe me or not, one of them even had his boots on when I had to receive the kicks.

It was a nice surprise from the guys to get something as a birthday gift. Later I realised from them that it was a planning that was done in about a couple of hours!

I think I have this penchant of celebrating my birthday away from home quite a number of times. Last year, it was in Kemmanagundi, with my colleagues from Bosch. That was one of the best trips I have had in a long time. And this time too it was no different. Generally, birthdays do not have a special significance in my life. I feel that it is just another day. In fact, I don't understand the fun and frolic associated with this event. Most of them end up partying the whole night on the occasion. But, of course, birthdays can be a special occasion, if special people call up to wish you. Hey, so who's calling?

Age is a number and mine is unlisted

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Last evening was pretty eventful. As the thermometer was struggling to get the mercury levels rising, the dipping temperature provided us the ideal platform to test our Bajji making skills. The Bajji mavu, potatoes, chillies (rather Jalapeno) and onions were laid on a platter, with one of us cutting the potatoes and onions, and the other making the dough. It is always exciting to try something new and we weren't sure how good the final product would be. Of course, we were smacking our lips by just imagining how good it would be. As the oil in the tava warmed up to a nicety, the potato was dipped into the semi-solidified bajji mavu, propped up beautifully and finally immersed into the frying pan. KccchhhhK! Wow! What a noise! After a long time, it was good to hear the splattering potato in the oil. It was music to our ears. As the bajji emerged out of the frying pan, all of us were eyeing it with a sense of contentment and pride. Obviously! Who gets to make bajjis everyday. The bajji quickly was torn into four pieces and each of us were quick to gulp the miniscule piece in glee. And then, the packet of vadaam (fryums) also emerged from the suitcase. C'mon, if we can make bajjis, why can'y we fry up the vadaam. Yeps! It did sound nice! And so after about 45 minutes of painstaking effort, we had a big vessel containing the delicious jevarisi vadaam and bajjis.

And finally, you must be wondering what BLO-JJI is! Since it is a blog on bajji, the title now I guess must be self-explanatory!

Nevertheless, truly a fully filling experience!

Friday, October 21, 2005


It just doesn't matter how much ever the Professor says - It is a simple 100 marks paper. You will have five questions each of 20 marks. You should ideally be out of the exam hall in half an hour. The effort you put in to prepare for a relatively easy paper is almost the same as that of a tough one. Ultimately, whether the paper is easy or not, the contents can be filled in the sheet only when something is there in the mind. I am a professional as far as writing exams are concerned. Right from my school days, struggling through my Pre-University exams and battling it out in my undergraduate exams, I would have written close to 250 exams (tests inclusive) easily. Life doesn't change though when you are again preparing for an exam, the only difference being now you are writing a graduate exam. Atleast let me get the preparations right! Let's care about the result later!

Just like any other semester, there would be one elusive subject where you put the burden on the Almighty. The maximum efforts are put forth for minimum gain. You try every trick in the book to get your bearings right, but then there would be something or the other that flys off the track (Mostly a lot of things seem that way!). The realisation dawns a little late. Should I have taken this course? Now of course, you have no choice but to turn into a highly God-fearing person!
One good thing about exams is that you are finished with it at the end of the day. And the story actually repeats. Post-mortem that just doesn't shed any light on the returns in the paper and the results that really doesn't make you any wiser!

Premarital sex and Hinduism

It is not everyday that a talk on pre-marital sex can lead to Hinduism and religion. It was just one of those days, where everyone spoke and about a lot of things! How (im)moral is it to have pre-marital sex! It is always good to elicit different views on this rather subdued subject. Obviously, in India it is still a taboo to talk about sex and related issues. No wonder, we get to study the related topics only in the tenth grade and that too not in all the mediums. Imagine a student taking up electronics or computer science in his eleventh and twelfth grade. He would have no formal way to learn about sex. And this is what the majority of the country is into at this time - no person has no definite say in this subject!

So how right is it to have pre-marital sex? Or rather should we be saying Can we talk about pre-marital sex? But being mature enough individuals, it is always good to vent your opinion for/against this topic. What has been subdued for so long should atleast have a common platform to discuss this topic. And so were we, tussling out the nuances of the morality of the issue. There were two set of arguments - Pre-marital sex is nothing wrong if one has a long standing partner and if the person does not intend to cheat his partner in the end. Another one was, Pre-marital sex is immoral be it a single partner or multiple partners. At this point, I could remember a beautiful quote that I had read sometime back Pre-marital sex is like getting a Christmas gift well before Christmas! Considering the kind of society that we live in and the kind of culture that we are brought up in, I would definitely say that pre-marital sex is not a concept that is taken favourably in India. It is altogether different that today's youth have broken the myth of a conservative society and a confined culture extending the limits to beyond the obvious. So there were these two groups, one of which said that Pre-marital sex is good as long as both of them are able to realise their maturity in a relationship and there was this other group: Pre-marital sex is a strict NO NO. According to me, an activity that could result in repentence years after youth should be thought of very well. How far one can go in a relationship should be left to the individuals and it is their maturity and composure that can decide what is good for them for the future!

Now, pre-marital sex and Hinduism? What's the relation? Again there was divided opinion - One of them said that the early Vedas supported polygamy while the other guy said that it was the contrary. Now, one gets to interpret Hinduism in a million ways and everybody seems to have a clear idea of only what he perceives of Hinduism. We have seen the various sects and subsects of Hinduism preach what they think is right and stick to a stand that gets embedded with that set of people. But then, who are we to decide what is wrong or right? How much of Hinduism do we actually know? It is a vast ocean where figuring out a droplet is not at all going to be easy.

At the end of the day, we safely concluded the discussion with Pre-marital sex is not at all a debatable topic.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Nayagan - Work of a genius

A movie made by India's finest director Mani Ratnam featuring the most talented actor Kamal Hassan and having its music composed by the one of the best music directors Illayaraja was very much high on expectations. The product was nothing short of sheer brilliance. Nayagan had got it all right!! It is almost fifteen years since the movie hit the big screen, but even today it is the most talked off movie in film circles. It was supposed to be filmed on the lines of another great English movie, Godfather starring Marlon Brando. A remake from any language is a difficult job, but Mani Ratnam had got the basic elements right to take the movie to the Indian masses. This movie is nothing short of a legend.

The movie starts off in dramatic style with the protagonist Velu's father, who is a union leader is short dead by the police. Velu has not even grown up beyond 10 maybe. He escapes off to Bombay not knowing what to expect from the big city. There he gets to meet his to be long term friend, Selva enacted brilliantly by Janagaraj. His tryst with the underworld dons and popularity with the poor people is the simple theme of this beautiful movie.

Mani Ratnam has chalked out the role of Velu in various phases - as a kid, as a youth, as a middle aged man and finally as the old man. It is easy to visualise Velu in all the roles. It sticks in memory for eternity. As a kid, he avenges his father's death. As a youth, he avenges the death of his father who adopted him and also, starts to grow in popularity among the poor people. He acquires the title of Nayakar. As a middle aged man, he takes charge completely to help the needy, while in his old age, his duels with a strict police commisioner, Nazar is a treat to watch.

There are various scenes in the movie that are unforgettable and some of the dialogues have gone on to become immortal.

Naalu perukku nalladhu seyyanumna edhuvumay thapilla!!! : If you want to help others, there is nothing wrong. This is the dialogue in which the entire theme of the movie revolves.

Avangalellam niruththa sollu, naan nirutharen!!! : Ask them to stop, I will stop. When his daughter confronts him and asks him to stop all the misdeeds, this dialogue is quoted.

There is a scene where everybody bear the brunt of the police to save Nayakar. When Nayakar is about to surrender to the police, Selva comes up with a statement Ippo poi surrender adaindha, ivvalavu per seththadukku arthamayilla(if you go and surrender now, there is no meaning for the death of all these people) for which Nayakar comes up with an equally stunning statement ippo poi surrender aalayna, iththana naal senjadhukku arthamayilla illama poidoonda(if I don't surrender now, then there is no meaning for what I have done all these days)

And of course, the dialogue at the very end of the movie, Nee nallavara kettavara requires no words to express the beauty of the dialogue, and this is so famous that even the English translation is not required.

According to me, it is very difficult even for a versatile actor like Kamal Hassan to beat his performance in Nayagan. The scene in which he cries when his son is dead is one of the most brilliant scenes. Even Sivaji Ganesan, another versatile actor of his era was stunned by the performance of Kamal Hassan. In every scene, one gets to witness his acting prowess. What can one say as far as Mani Ratnam's direction is concerned. His directorial skills was never questioned and as far as this movie was concerned, he had hit the pinnacle of glory. Only a skilled director like him can bring about such a beautiful sequence to stitch this masterpiece. Illayaraja's music is nothing short of sheer brilliance. The title track of the movie Thenpaandi Seemayile is nothing to beat. The background score of the movie entirely revolves around the backdrop of this title track and not once is it boring. This movie is an epic as far as Indian cinema is concerned. The pulse of the audience is tested to no limits during the flow of the movie. Even the ending of this movie is highly realistic.

Today we have seen many movies that revolves around mafia and the underworld, but I am not sure whether any of them can come close to this greatness crafted by Mani Ratnam. I have watched this movie close to a twenty times, and I try to catch glimpses of this movie even today, when it is played on tamil channels.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Black Friday - Haunting

The real backdrop of a typical hindi movie cannot be complete without these messy elements - songs, dance sequences, more songs, more dance, hero meets heroine, love against all odds and finally ending up a in a marriage sequence that can be befitting only to Hindi cinema. Many directors have time and again made it miserable for the Hindi movie audience and the mental truama associated with the cinegoer is unimaginable. But there are some directors who break the norm associated with Bollywood and come up with something unconventional and sensational leaving the audience gasping for breath. These directors can be packed to an elite class and Anurag Kashyap invariably finds his name cemented in this league of extraordinary gentlemen.

Hussain Zaidi's book, Black Friday hit the stands depicting the 12th of March, 1993 Mumbai blasts, one of the many unforgettable days in Indian history. And so did Anurag Kashyap's film based on the book was made. I refrain from using the phrase hitting the stands simply because the Supreme court of India passed a ruling staying the release of the move as it might affect the judgement in the case. This may sound ridiculous, but then we are upheld to act in accordance to the Court of Law. Anurag Kashyap has potrayed the grim realities of that ill-fated day, where hundreds of people were killed in the bomb blasts that engulfed the commercial capital of the country. Life hit a standstill as bombs exploded in all the important places in the city. The rest of the world watched with bated breath as Mumbai catapulted to one of the worst disasters of the century.

The film is all about the Mumbai blasts and the investigation that takes place in the aftermaths of the bomb blasts. Slick editing and narration, coupled with highly realistic facts makes it interesting to watch. Even the characters are sensationally real. No aliases used in the entire movie. The names are used indiscriminately to potray facts as facts. That is highly difficult considering the kind of circumstances that we live in today's society. This movie not only deals with the Mumbai blasts from the investigator's perspective but also gives a clear perspective of what the terrorists really undergo after such an inhumane attack. The director has to narrate the events from a diverse cross-section. The points emerge from the investigation department headed by Rakesh Maria, enacted brilliantly by Kay Kay, Tiger Memon enacted by Pavan Malhotra, Dawood Ibrahim, the pawns of the big guns who implement what is entrusted on them and then of course, from the lay man's perspective. The way the director juggles with the views of all these different narrative points to build a coherent structure, and breaking the boring conventional norms of tortuous cinematic sequences to build a racy encounter supported by facts and only facts leaves the audience witness the excruciating pain that hit the country on Black Friday.

The cast is held together by a set of low-profile actors, headed brilliantly by Kay Kay. When realism is depicted the way it is, the cast has to be equally appealing. Each scene unfolds to a shock and the viewer is fed with events, that gets real all along and and the viewer is in a tough position to digest the innumerable events that gets streamed in each scene. Black Friday ends on a powerful current of Indian Ocean's Bandeh, a phenomenal song that fits the backdrop of the blasts.

Anurag Kashyap hit the limelight with beautifully crafted dialogues for RamGopal Verma's realistic Satya. But jinxed that he is, his Paanch suffered the wrath of the censors. It remains to be seen whether he gets the chance to get this movie to the forefront of the Indian audience, as this is one movie that should not be missed nor messed with!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Book filled weekend...

Nothing can be as heart warming as reading a book on a friday night when you know that you have tests lined up for the coming week! I had the pleasure of reading Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. It is all about What not to do at IIT! Unlike other weekends, I got up early in the morning to finish up the last few chapters. You would never see me doing that for an exam or a test. But then these are the good things about good books. You never get to know how time flies. A good book on a weekend is the most amazing thing for anybody in the world. If you have time, grab a copy of this wonderful book to have a good time!!

Five Point someone - Racy

How would you feel if you are travelling in a train at a speed of 500km/hr! yes, that's how I would describe Five Point Someone. A racy book with all the fun elements integrated in a neat package. Chetan Bhagat has come up with a superb debut. What exactly is the kind of life that is being lead behind the doors of the best technological school in India and one of the elite in the world cannot be handled in a more entertaining way.

It is a story of three youngsters, Hari, Alok and Ryan. I wouldn't be going into their academics. Nothing more suffices to explain their academic brilliance than getting into IIT. Obviously they are among the best in the country. It is about life beyond academics. Their friendhsip gels to a nicety on the first day at the hostel when they are ensnared in a ragging session with two seniors. Their bare intentions exposed, Ryan takes the plunge in getting the other two out of the rut from the seniors. This brings the three of them close. To describe the three of them, Alok is a studious guy, who always puts his family before himself. All his thoughts ultimately converge to his parents and his unmarried sister. The decisions taken by him are a clear influence of the kind of middle class environment he has been brought up in. Ryan is more dynamic and can be attributed to have good(or bad!!) leadership qualities. Ryan invariably is the decision maker. He is the one the other two in the group look up to solve the issues. Of course, Alok can get murky at times thanks to his family commitments but Hari is a total Ryan follower. Hari, basically doesn't want to get on the wrong side of Ryan and Alok. He tries to maintain a neutral stand whenever Ryan and Alok have a standoff. Overall, Hari is a very simple person who has a lot of inhibitions about his looks. His static response to a viva question would be in total contrast to the dynamic response of the daredevil of the group, Ryan.

How mechanical can life at IIT be? Anybody would think that life at IIT is only full of studies if you go by what Ryan says in the book. He is totally frustrated with life and feels that the best brains of the country cannot spend four years of their prime time behind these closed walls without any original thinking. The other two do not have to express these views, and Ryan would definitely not get behind their views(literally!). Life changes and so do for these guys, when Ryan decides that one cannot waste away their best days of their life, and they should look for all round development of the self rather than go in for bookish knowledge. So, he comes up with a daily program that has only three hours of studies, while the rest would be devoted for fun. This forms the daily routine upto the first semester, when after the first semester results, this leads to a set of three Five Pointers.

Life just cannot improve for five-pointers at IIT. When you are branded as a five pointer, you are looking at the under-achievers of a great institute. What can they do to get themselves out of the rut? Hari, in the meanwhile, falls in love with the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Cherian's daughter, Neha. His romantic trysts with her is fascinating and fun filled. Whether Hari can hold on to this relationship in spite of the many blunders that he commits, and whether these guys can beat the system at IIT to herald a good future forms the crux of this fast paced book. I refrain myself from using the words novel or an autobiography, simply because it is neither fictious nor it is an autobiography according to the author. Chetan Bhagat has put himself in Hari's shoes, but goes on to say that not everything what is written is true. So, this is a blend of facts and fiction. Obviously not everything is true simply because of the extraordinary incidents that are written in the book. Such things are unimaginable to take place in an institution of the reputation of the IITs.

Chetan Bhagat has come up with a neat book that can be made into an equally neat movie. A lot of reviews have compared this book to the DCH version of a movie. Being a first time author, it is very difficult to guage the pulse of the readers and I think he has got the equations right amidst the young readers. Ryan is the most difficult character for us to guage his identity. He makes himself to be a rigid persona and stamps his authority convincingly on the other two. His C2D model (Co-operate to Dominate) is his idea when they enter the final year of study. Hari is a subtle version of Ryan. The way he gifts Neha on her birthday makes it too exciting. His regular rendezvous with Professor Cherian keeps the reader in splits. Alok's character is to put in simple words - boring.

Overall this book makes for exceptional reading. This is a book that can be absorbed in less than four hours. This makes for continous reading because this book is just unputdownable. Let us see whether Bhagat can keep up his magic in his next venture One night at the call center. Grab a copy of this book for an afternoon bout!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bachelor of Arts - Simply Simple

A book which effectively deals with realistic issues and perfect embodiment of simplicity and values is found in Bachelor of Arts. R.K Narayan has this uncanny knack of portraying Indian values in the most authentic way. He handles it in a way that no author can do the same justice to the Indian conditions. Many foreign authors have tried and faltered to come to terms with the living conditions here. But, R.K. Narayan has repeatedly come up with books that essays deeply into the emotions of the common man, picking out little things from daily lives that makes a big difference to the reader when reading the book. Be it the masterpiece Swami and friends, where any reader can be attributed to have lead a life similar to that of Swami, The Financial Expert which brilliantly deals about the relationship between father and son or The English Teacher, which explores the intricate association between a husband and wife, and the subsequent agony of the husband after his wife's departed soul, R.K. Narayan comes up with touching themes that leaves the reader in deep introspection.

Bachelor of Arts is a walkthrough of a generation revolving around the main protagonist of the story, Chandran. Chandran is so ominously present in us that it doesn't become difficult to get into his groove. There are times when the reader has to stir himself up with the feeling Oh!! Is this happening to me?!! A story starting from college days of a B.A, History graduate, progressing into that difficult phase where every student faces a huge roadblock in his life - whether to continue studies or not or rather What do I do next?, and then, falling unsuccessfully in love with the girl next door only to think that solitude is the best company before realising that family means a lot more than that of a girl's love, and chalking out a career after the worn-out days of love is the walkthrough of this brilliant piece of literature by the greatest Indian writer of all times.

Chandran's college days are a gentle reminder of our days. Planning out a study schedule for the exams brings memories where we have planned more than we studied. The household of Chandran brimming with life, with his mother, father and brother is like any typical Indian family. The college activities of Chandran are superbly written. The debates of whether historians have to be slaughtered or not, is brilliantly depicted. His friendship with Ramu and their mutual admiration for each other is well handled. R.K. Narayan has also beautifully brought out the fact how college friends do not end up as friends for life. When Ramu loses all touch from him after a few years, R.K. Narayan through Chandran says People pretended that they are friends, but the fact is they are brought together by forces of circumstances. How true!!!

His life changes when he sees a girl, Malathi in the town. He constantly ponders about her at home. His parents become distressed seeing his situation at home. They, to fulfill their son's wish try their best to strike the alliance, but due to the conventional concepts of horoscope matching, ill luck has its claim on the alliance. Chandran is shattered with the developments, and all the more, when he sees his hearthrob getting married. He feels that running away from home is the best thing for him to do. He does run away to Madras, where he carefully eludes staying at his cousin's house, and slips away to obscurity. There, he comes to face with circumstances that makes him realise how foolish it was of him to slip away from loved ones at home. He comes back to Malgudi to a relieved reception from his parents. He realises that he has to take up some responsibilities and chalks out a career, until he really falls in love with a girl and gets married.

This forms the gist of Bachelor of Arts. The reader is constantly in a trance while reading this book not because he is elevated to fictitious situations, but because he is take to stunning reality that places him so close to this cherubic Chandan. I have read this book more than a couple of times and everytime it is a new message that gets embedded in my mind. A masterly book by a masterly writer. Not to miss this book for anything in the world.

Swades - A touch of class

A story woven out of wafer thin concept, driven by morals, values and ethics with simple entertainment can be translated to a highly meaningful cinema only by a genius. Ashutosh can walk with his head held high!!! He has come up with a gem of a movie, touching the emotional chords of reality. The fusion of the west and east, and its inextricable separation cannot be displayed in a more authentic way. Swades, starts off in the backdrop of NASA, powered by the big guns of the technological field, with one of its high priority projects managed by an Indian - Mohan Bhargav, in the role of a Project Manager, aptly enacted by Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh can be attributed to have enacted the role of his lifetime. It was really annoying to see Shahrukh in the usual run-of-the-mill roles as Rahul and what not in every other romantic flick. A highly talented actor like Shahrukh could not have had a better platform to showcase his skills. The sheer agony of having to chose NASA or charanpur to live out the remaining part of his life leaves everyone in a contemplative mood.

Mohan decides to visit India for two weeks to visit his childhood mentor, nanny(whatever) Kaveriamma. The visit to India serves as a double dose, as he gets to meet the woman of his life - Gita(Gayathri Joshi), who is an idealist with contrasting views to that of Mohan. Mohan is witness to the innumerable problems that besets the people of Charanpur. A thing as simple as electricity that remains elusive to the people of Charanpur is not taken well by Mohan. The pathos that fills him when he sees a kid selling water for 25paise at the railway station is one of the best scenes of the movie. It leaves an indelible image on the viewers even after the movie. What can he do to get the country out of the rut? Will he go back to NASA along with Kaveriamma or will he fight for the people's cause forms the crux of this well crafted movie!!!

The actors of the movie have done a fantastic job. Each scene is crafted to perfection. Shahrukh, as Mohan delivers his dialogues in his inimitable style. Gayathri Joshi is a ravishing beauty. The scene where she presents herself during her marriage talks sticks to memory for long. The lagaan actors who play the roles of Postman and cook have done a great job. The rustic countryside is picturised beautifully. A R Rahman and Javed Akhtar have proved once again why they are the best in business in today's cinema. Rahman has come up with titillating tunes, and Akhtar's lyrics are simply brilliant.

All in all, a great movie for all. The critics would simply love such a movie. Whether the Hindi cinegoers are going to love such a movie is another highly debatable topic. A movie with a social message having a documentary touch has never been respected by the cinegoers and whether Swades will change the face of hindi cinema is a million dollar question that can be answered only by the collections at the box office.

A movie not to be missed for sure!!!!

The Fountainhead - A symbol of solitude

The book driven mainly by a single character, Howard Roarke, an architect who is the symbol of ideals, values, morals and principles leaves us in doubt. Who gets the credit? Howard Roarke or Ayn Rand, the author? Ayn has created Roarke to perfection and his ability to stick to his strong ideals in the face of adversity leaves the readers with a sense of deference towards Roarke. The main theme of the book is whether an individual has to live for himself or should he survive by appeasing the whims and fancies of all around. The latter is referred to as the Second Hander. According to the author, the creativity of the owner is modified by the second hander to get adoration and admiration that would prove to be futile in the long run.

The Fountainhead is a simple story of the life of two different kind of architects - Peter Keating(second hander) and Howard Roarke(creative idealist). Roarke is suspended from Stanton institute in his final year of his architectural study as he refuses to believe in the confined system of education that provides nothing to enhance his ability. On the contrary, Keating sticks to his education which lands him in a top architect firm in New York city. The initial struggle of Roarke reduces him to penury and the roaring success of Keating(thanks to Roarke's help in various architectural drawings) makes him the top architect of the country. There is a stage in Roarke's life, where he has not paid his office rent for two months, telephone bills, electricity bills for the same duration and the remainder of his life cringes on a bank contract that he eagerly awaits. In spite of his hard-stricken financial position, Roarke has the guts to refuse the contract since the committe members suggest modifications in his drawing. This tells us the kind of stance taken by Roarke in the worst of circumstances. He undertakes all kinds of work to keep his life moving, even going to the extent of working in a quarry. At a later stage, he meets the woman of his life - Dominique Francon. They share a passionate relationship and Dominique's mind-duels with Roarke forms a very interesting and fascinating sequence. Howard Roarke's association with Gail Wynand, the owner of the prestigious newspaper The Banner, who also happens to be Dominique's husband, steps up Roward in the success ladder. Whether Roarke is successful to stick to his ideals and live out his life in peace forms the essence of this brilliantly crafted book.

Peter Keating might have been successful in the initial stages of his career, but the latter half of his career reduces him to an insignificant character. He wins the initial battles, but ultimately loses the war unlike Roarke. There are different kinds of people in the world - People who practice what they preach and people who preach what they don't do. There is another category which is totally non-existent - People who do not preach what they practice. Roarke finds his name in this elite category. He sticks to his ideals without any sense of reasoning as far as the society is concerned. He might have earned a very contumacious reputation for this attitude, but this also gives us the opportunity to peek into his reclusive ideals.

The whole book treads on the path of altruism but ends with a high note on egoism. There are two trials that Roarke has to face in his life - One for the Stoddard Case and one for the building explosion case. These are the two cases which present a totally different outlook. In the first case, Roarke presents a photographic evidence, while in the other he presents an outstanding argument to win his case.

This is a book that really gives the reader to ponder whether he is on the right path of fulfilling his dreams. Fountainhead springs forth the virtues of solitude - the ability to think alone. The highly philosophical drama embedded with strong messages is a must read for people who look forward for a book without any tinge of commercial elements - thriller, mystery or romance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It hardly matters...

Does it make a difference whether you are in Bangalore or in the United States? I would definitely say no. The general lifestyle tends to change but not to a large extent. Life trudges along the same mechanical lines. The limits are very clear. You tend to do what you have been doing the last twenty years albeit with a touch of independence and measured self-confidence. If Bangalore was all about studies for a student, life here in Rolla encompasses other things too. Cooking, washing, cleaning, reading, surfing, blogging and maybe studying, form the daily chores.

What is this talk about International community and overall exposure? Be it a Graduate Students meet or International Students meet or any other meet, the major chunk of the guys tend to be Indians. International students do exist, but it is largely overridden by the vast majority of us, that they other nations form a miniscule of the student population. I many times, feel that I stay in an Indian colony in Bangalore. The apartment is such that it is filled with Indian students and form typical Indian neighbours!

Human beings are deceptively a coherent unit at home. We fight, shout, and yell at will while in our country. But once we are thrown into the vast unknown, indecisiveness, insecurity and apprehension brings out a lot of cohesiveness and bonding in us. You realise the importance of community and friends. Adjustment and flexibility become new adjectives in your life. Self-dependence and self-reliability forms a crucial part in transforming your personality. We are the birds that flock together. Yet, it is highly mesmerizing when we retain our identity in a group.

Studies are studies in any part of the world. But when studies are just a part of the overall syllabus that life throws, you realise that it is not studies alone that holds the strands of life together!!

The initial days are generally filled with prolonged confusion. Is it all worth it? is the question that hits your mind pretty frequently. But once the daily routine gets embedded in your lifestyle, all these things are just normal. The mechanical element in life gets its introduction and stays on!! That's when you realise that life here is no different than in India. Just as one cannot find out that distinguishing factor between sunrise and sunset, the beginning of a new lifestyle is just as same as the previous one.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


A game of squash is fun - real fun indeed. The recreation center in the university sports great facilities in badminton, basketball, lawn tennis, gymnasium, racquet ball and squash. So, why not Squash today? Experimenting, learning and picking up new things is great fun. Back from a good treadmill session, I happened to meet my friend who was back from an endearing session of squash. I pulled him for another session...obviously I wanted to try out this fascinating game. He came after a lot of reluctance. 25 minutes of back-breaking ball hitting. I was trying my level best not to go for the backhand chops, a habit procured from table tennis. Hitting across the walls, and trying to outwit the opposition is challenging stuff. At the end of a pretty tiring game, we decided we would end the day at the recreation center. And then, casually, we tried to open the door. Oops! The door seems to be locked! Both of us tried rotating the knob in both ways, and it seemed to have stuck. There is no point in shouting or banging the door. It is a sound proof room. Com'on you are playing Squash! An half an hour's wait. We were exploring the combinations of breaking out. Suddenly, through the small glass frame, I could see someone whisking past the pathway (about 2 meters in width). We frantically banged the door. It was our lucky day under these circumstances. The in-charge was there on time. She told us to stay cool! Even she tried her level best to free us out, and then it was decided that there was something wrong in the lock. She called in the physical instructor and after about 10-15 minutes, we had the door flung open. But once we realised what the problem was, we could manage another 8 point game!

If you ever think that you are not claustrophobic, get into a squash court with a damaged lock. You may experience something totally different!!

I better get used to this, I want to play another game of squash tomorrow. I better check the lock before I get in!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

HaHa Tonka - Laughing all the way

Anyone would get mesmerised by the name of the place and so were we. This was one of the reasons why we wanted to visit the HaHa Tonka state park located maybe 50-60 miles off Rolla. The Council of Graduate students decided that as a great start to the semester, it would be befitting to start off with a nice little picnic and so the place decided to be Haha Tonka.

I got this information from the University website.
In 1904, Robert Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City, MO businessman, was so impressed with the natural beauty of the location that he purchased around 2,500 acres of the land for use as a resort. Synder originally started out in St. Louis and worked in the wholesale grocery business. He later moved to Kansas City where he became involved with the wholesale grocery business, banking, land speculation, and utilities. Snyder owned the Snyder Gas Company of Kansas City and was one of the first automobile owners in that city. In his business dealings, Synder was always said to operate with honor and integrity. Construction on Hahatonka Castle started in 1905. Snyder dreamed of a resort built to resemble the finest of European castles. In order to fulfill his goals, he hired Scottish stonemasons and a European supervisor to complete the project. The entire resort consisted of a 3.5 story castle, stone stable, nine greenhouses, and an eighty foot water tower, all built of locally acquired stone and timber.

The name Haha Tonka stems from the fact that the Osage Indians referred to it as the Laughing waters. We had to trek to the castle ruins. Ruins I say because the castle was guttled in flames in the year 1942. The castle was short lived as it was built in 1922. The beauty of the castle is not awe-inspiring. It is the pathway to the castle that is laid with breathtaking sceneries. Natural springs, nice pathways, lush green, blue waters, a sea of boats engulfed in the lakes and the huge college crowd, made it an exciting and easy walk for us up the hill. We were around 60 of us and the trek was not as easy (just like any other). The (dis)advantage of the places here are the fact that it is not like in India where if you are refering a place to be a trek spot, it is surely going to be a tough shot. The pathways are etched to perfection with signboards placed at regular intervals. Once you reach up the hill, there is no necessity of climbing down since beautiful roads make our work easy. We had our refreshments - soda, chips, burgers, doughnuts, honey coated buns and then drove our way back to Rolla.

Overall it was a fun-filled day of trek and basically getting to know a lot of fellow mates.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mor Kuzhambu

Whoa! What's this mysterious sounding word. This is nothing but a South Indian sambar made from curds. What a paradox! Sambar and curds getting combined. Yeps! That's the speciality of this item. It was Saturday evening at 6 o' clock. The baays in my room got ready to experiment on yet another item. Oh! I had a sound sleep for an hour and as I got up, I was smacking my lips seeing the dish. We laid down the matress on the carpet, the mor kuzhambu and aloo curry. One of my roommates got up to take the container of yoghurt from the refrigerator. On seeing the brand of yoghurt, I let out a scream. We can't have the curds. It has gelatin. So, I told them, we won't have the curds today. So, my roommate gave out an equally loud scream...In that case, we can't have the kuzhambu too! Then it struck us what had happened. There was curds in the kuzhambu. For a moment all of us were caught on the wrong foot. Here we have a mouth watering dish right in front of us but just not in the position to taste it. So, we decided to give away the dish to our non-vegetarian counterparts in the apartment below. They were delighted to have it.

So, we had to do with some of the podis that we had got and the mor kuzhambu transformed into nil-kuzhambu. But we also thanked our stars in just missing out on testing the sample of gelatin unknowingly.

The bottom line is being a vegetarian is fine but to practise it real hard is indeed real hard. I just hope we live upto the name of vegetarians knowingly (of course) as well as unknowingly.

PS : If anybody wants the recipe of this item, get in touch with me :-)