On Coincidence…

Guest Blog #16 – Anand C

“can the loud clap of a cymbal change everything?”
– ‘The man who knew too much’ (1956)

“a large van coming across the street, onto a slab of glass, Lola and her boyfriend fleeing from the police…”
– Run Lola Run (1999)

“…discovering a little box of playthings that some child hid away decades ago… everything associated with childhood will one fit one day fit in a little box… is the way to true happiness improving the lives of everyone around you?”
– Amelie (2001)

“what if there are no conicidences?”
– Signs (2002)

“three youth. from three different strata. meet on the Napier bridge. their lives change irrevocably…”
– Aayitha Ezhuthu (2004)

World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 4 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series – Anand C and Lazy Geek
classical dance montage

“If I worship thee for fear of hell, burn me in hell; if I worship thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship thee for thy own sake, grudge me not thy everlasting beauty!”

This hymm from Sufi saint Rabi’a sums up an artist’s approach to the arts (‘ars gratia artis’ or ‘art for arts’ sake’), the essence of Theme 4 of this series [story so far]. True artists are said to draw inspiration from their own experiences. A.R Rahman‘s “Thee Thee” from Thiruda Thiruda comes to mind as an example where the interweaving of the loud & pacy male voice and the soft & melodious female voice seems to subtly reflect the criss-crossing influences of Hinduism and Islam in his own life.

Classical Music and Dance are un-ending sources of inspiration. The mystical and symbolic nature and its ability to express subtle, multi-layered human emotions succintly is an excellent theme to explore. Traditionally, some memorable characters have been portrayed on celluloid. Sankarabaranam, Salangai Oli, Sindhu Bhairavi, Taal. And yet, some eminently forgettable characters (who can’t shake a leg to save their lives!) have come and gone, bringing down the genre with them (Ramarajan’s world record for the most make-up per sq. cm of skin notwithstanding). It’s time for a revival!


Mani Ratnam and the “relative grading” syndrome!

Guest Blog 14 – Anand C

Good students are good students in the Indian education system, regardless of how well others perform. You get “first class” if you have 60%. Simple!

However in the American educational system you could get a ‘B’ if you got 60% and half the class scored higher than you. On the flip side, you could get less than 40% and still get a ‘B’ if most of the class is behind you. The key to decide which side of the ‘bump in the bell curve’ one sits on is which class you get compared to!

If Mani Ratnam’s Aayitha Ezhuthu is analyzed a la the Indian education system (i.e., by itself, not in comparison with his past films), he would get a great grade – commercially and critically speaking. Most current reviews though seem biased in one form or another by the “relative grading” syndrome.

What do you think?

What makes NEWS?

Guest Blog 13 – Anand C

I’ve wondered how news is prioritized and given preference and how they choose what is repeated again and again on 24-hour news channels. (Case in point: The same weekend that Britney Spears went through her “one-day” wedding in Las Vegas, NASA’s Rover landed had its historic Mars landing. It’s anybody’s guess as to which of the two got all the ink).

One of my friends (a professional in the print industry) seems to know why. According to him, the pocket guide to determine what is news consists of two high-level guidelines:

1. Someone died.
2. Someone got rich.

Evidently, degrees of separation from these two guidelines determines how much “human interest” a story has. Sounds morbid but true…

UPDATE: The NEWS being advertised as a ‘show’ is more scary. What happens when bad news is being delivered about a company that is sponsoring that segment? Also, news anchors create brands around themselves for being trustworthy. Now, who does the audience trust and more importantly, hold accountable – the TV network or the announcer? -a.

World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 3 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series- Anand Chandrasekharan and Lazy Geek

Fire-fighters, investment bankers, engineers working on outsourced IT projects, doormen – thousands lost their lives. The untold outrage, the genuine sorrow (and the political photo-ops) aside, one of the most vivid memories of September 11, 2001 is tens of people jumping down from a burning tower.

man falling from tower

When people are struck by tragedy… when they are jumping out of a burning tower… are they jumping from jobs and lives they loved?

Parts 1 and 2 of this series focussed on real people (Srinivas Ramanujan and the unsung hero Dr.V) whose lives make inspiring themes. This attempt (in verse) is more abstract and philosophical and tries to relate to the mindset of the victim when tragedy strikes and one’s life flashes before one’s eyes…

Our parts, our roles, they’re all perfect,
So prim nobody would suspect…
anything astray, anything out of the ordinary,
Performances simply extraordinary.
As we live life, donning our make up,
Through every “Howz it going”, thru every “whatsup”,
Do we stop to think, to ponder?
To look for a moment, yonder…
At the man in the mirror, he lives…
Reflections, ruminations, dreams, beliefs!
Listen to him, for he would introduce,
That person, given a choice, we’d choose…
Be him, and life would not be sour,
Even if one’s jumping from a burning tower.

My Take on this – Lazy Geek
He stands high at the 102nd floor of the burning tower, struggling what could be his escape route. He can probably jump and hope he can survive. Flashes of his wife, children, parents, friends come before him. Should he jump? I am worried about him.

They may call it sensational stuff, paint it grey or even complain it as cashing in from a nostalgic tale, but the man from the falling tower is certainly the concern of the theme.

Movies like Mahanadhi have captured the toil a man undergoes for no mistake of his. The way families get destroyed because of one small mis-judgement. It irritates you. You can never stomach that. You can’t even agree to this fact. It is one of the few times that we have reality striking before our eyes.

Didn’t the reality strike on 9/11? Didn’t that reality strike us with the incidents that happened in India? Every time it happens we forget it in less than a week as the news about those incidents decreases exponentially. But thinking back after a couple of years, they get reduced to few images we saw on CNN that night, in India.

Movies have long standing impact on people life. Genuine Ones. This could also be one genuine one if at all someone was willing to be genuine enough in crafting this movie. It needn’t be as lavish as Titanic, as sober as Schindler’s List. Just a honest depiction. Indian directors are changing to the new style of Multiplex movies. This, however, cannot be a multiplex movie. By all means, this has to widely watched like Lagaan.

But that man at the 102nd floor, waiting to jump, still worries me.