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Purple Sky

The blue, pink & purple of everything under the sky

Sufiyum Sujatayum

After watching Sufiyum Sujathayum, i was wondering why I was not even the least bit affected by the story, rather i was so impatient that i fast forwarded (gasp!) some of the scenes. Having given some thought to this, i wanted to make a treatise on the “The perfect love story”.

The word mystical and magical was used in many reviews. Intellectually you know that is what the makers are aiming for, right from the first scene with all the filters and the meticulous colour coordination (the greens, the browns and the earthy reds) and the stirring sufi music. But at no point of time did I ever feel the love between the two characters.

Of course, it will be very easy to blame the format for the loss of magic. This movie was meant to release in theatres but was released in OTT platform. I am a strong believer that some movies are meant for the theatres. So, was that the reason? Lost in translation; or rather medium?

All this reminded me of another movie which I had first watched in OTT and was still blown away. Mayaanadhi. When watching Mayaanadhi I used earphones and I distinctly remember how the music had enveloped me. So I had made sure to be undisturbed and use my earphones for SS, but to no avail. Soon after watching SS, I rewatched Mayaanadhi (maybe for the third time…?).  I was hooked from beginning to end and didn’t not forward anything even though this is not the first time I am watching.

So what is the difference?

I guess the difference is that the internal struggle which the characters went through was not at all elaborated. Now then, all the beginnings of the struggles are all there… But it just remains like scraps of paper in the wind… no direction, no destination.

As far as I have seen, every love story has three conflicts. One is the personal or family conflict of the girl, then the personal / family conflict of the boy and third the conflict that arises between this boy and girl as a result of their own personal conflicts.

In Mayaanadhi, it is very well define. The girl is a struggling actress having confidence issues, because of which her closest relations are easily able to manipulate her. The boy is a loner, immature and has just committed murder. And all this contributes to the trust issues between them. But it is not just getting these things right. When you see Mathan and Appu, nobody can deny the love that is between them. The moments add up.

Contrarily, at no point in SS, did I feel the love between the characters, nor the conflict. Does her inability to speak pose a problem? But everyone seems to perfectly understand her. Does he being a travelling saint cause friction? But that doesn’t stop him from waiting for her. Are they conflicted about being from two different religions? But they don’t seem to be affected by that nor seem to be remotely worried about their loved ones reactions until they react… What was the intention of saying Sujatha will start speaking when the Naaval tree bears fruits? Is it because that will be the first time in her life she asserts herself to get what she wants i.e. to see her Sufi for the last time?

What was depicted only seemed to be like a teenage infatuation, a fascination felt towards a mysterious person – a person who has a captivating voice and able to perform the mystical dervish. Everybody seems to be attracted to him. But what was his attraction towards her? Because of this lack of depth here, I am unable to empathise with Sujatha for putting her husband through an emotional wringer. And Jayasuriya seems to be playing just two notes throughout the movie – emotionally lost and perpetually irritated.

This incoherent rendition of “The Perfect Love Story” has made Sufiyum Sujatha  only a series of technically skilled frames and falls short from being a soul touching Sufi music it set out to be.

Irandaam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu – Review

You know it is a Pa Ranjith’s production when you see the cast of IUPKG. Portrayal of the underdog is this man’s forte and his productions are also an extension of this. Unsurprisingly, his second Production is also about a group of people we don’t usually see in Tamil cinema in the front and center. People who work in scrapyard, lorry drivers and the like. But don’t they too have a story to tell? And so this is a story where, their daily lives which is far gruelling and/or violent than your average Kumaru crosses path with a wayward live artillery shell.

Premise is very interesting with the personal becoming conflated with the social which in turn seems to be trivial in the face of death. This is also expressed in one of the scenes where Dinesh faces off with a person trying to kill him. But the premise alone doesn’t make for an engaging movie. There are many individual scenes, which are shot well, funny, absorbing. For example the koothu song which cross cuts between Anandhi and the koothu was exhilerating. Also the camaraderie between Dinesh and Muneeshkanth was great giving rise to some very good situational comedy.

But there seems to be so many loose ends throughout the movie. John Vijay is menacing and then he is gone, Marimuthu has depicted the heartless owner well, then he is gone. Ramesh Thilak comes as the saintly friend, but he is also gone. Three robbers are shown trying to steal the lorry, but what purpose it serves this story is lost to me. And the characters of Dinesh, Rithvika, Anandhi and Lijeesh (police officer) always seems to be bumping into each other, that the plausibility of the story is undermined. Because of these multitude of characters and subplots which does not have a satisfying closure, the movie fails to make the impression that it set out to create.

Some Thoughts after Watching Peranbu

I got to watch the movie only yesterday (Thanks to Amazon Prime). I just realise, I am the outlier here, because the decision of the father to move out of civilisation made perfect sense to me. Seeing the way people around him were reacting to Paappa, the stigma that both of them were being subjected to (because of the palsy and wife running away), even I thought best option is to go somewhere far away from “civilisation”. Maybe the fact that, I’ve been thinking a lot about a home similar to the one they showed is the reason. Or the fact that I strongly believe nature heals. Here the girl has the freedom to be herself. If she screams there is no one to scold her for that. If she want to roam around, she can do so, without any apprehensions of scorn or stigma, instead of being locked up in a room out of fear. And animals sometimes understand weakness and are gentler than human beings. How many times we have seen dogs behaving more gently with babies than with their adult owners?

And as a man, it must never have crossed his mind that she is a growing child reaching maturity. Until that moment when he saw blood on the sheets. He is dumbstruck by this and that is also captured beautifully. Of course her mother knows. But then she has decided not to stick around. And he does what is best in that situation.

I couldn’t believe it when they showed the father searching for a male prostitute. Not because it is atrocious (though it is). While watching the movie, actually that thought had crossed my mind as the only solution. But of course it is ridiculous and I never thought it will be depicted on screen.

I am astounded that Mammootty had agreed to work with this script. But then they were actors first, long long time ago. The word ‘gigolo’ by a fellow commentor in a blog sparked the memory of another Malayalam movie where the father gifts a toy – a live, breathing, handsome “Kalipattam”, for his terminally ill daughter. So some shades of this theme has been explored before in cinema, though in that case it was only the “Kalipattam’s” POV.

But come to think of it, what do we do as parents to boys and girls who have come of age? We send signal to them (because we will never speak openly about it to them) that these things needs to be suppressed. Decades back they were married off as soon as they come of age. But now that is demonised as “child marriage”. And now we don’t even know what to do with our “normal” teenagers, let alone differently able ones.

The ending again also didn’t feel abrupt for me, cause in my mind I was able to fill in the dots very easily from the suicide attempt to happiness. This is an age old trope where the person falls in love with the one who saves. Usually in our movies it is the man who saves and the woman who swoons. And this is mostly accepted as an explanation. But when the same is shown as the woman (or trans person) is saving the man (like here or in Kaattru veliyidai) that is not easily accepted.

Ram is always known to push the boundaries of “normal” thinking. I know, because he pushed me to the extremes of revulsion with his Kattradhu Tamil MA. So much so that I always approach his movies with trepidation.

Again he has managed to explore some more extreme emotions, but looks like this time around, my thoughts have synced many times with his and that has been my biggest surprise after watching this movie

The Lion King – Review

I have watched The Lion King a 110 times… Maybe an exaggeration, but I guess you get the point. I am also part of the crowd who doesn’t want to watch the remade Disney classics, because my childhood was filled with Disney classics and don’t want the experience “tainted”.

So it was with two minds that I had entered the theatre yesterday to watch the new 🦁 👑. First things first. Watching the sunrise and the opening scene with all its musical grandeur in a theatre definitely beats all the viewing I had on a TV screen using a VHS cassette. Growing up, English movies were not so commonly screened in theatres as it is done today. So this is technically the first time I am watching my beloved movie in a theatre. And that experience was truly unbeatable.

The animation was also amazing. It was like we were watching a BBC documentary. And the flora and fauna has been shown with great precision and beauty.

Movie was mostly screen by screen repition excepting a few added scenes. Like Nala’s escape from Pride rock and the tuft of hair travelling through the entire Circle of Life. But somehow the emotions were not replicated. Mufasa’s death never fails to draw tears from my eyes. And it did not fail even this time. But some scenes like Nala’s reunion with Simba or Rafiki’s elation on realizing that Simba is alive seems clunky, forced and emotionless. The hyenas were the comic relief in the original, but here they are just another talking menacing looking animal.

I was glad to hear Mufasa’s original voice in this movie also. But all other voices have changed. Looking at the voice cast I was pleased to know that most of the lead cast are African origin people. For eg in the original only 5 out of 15 of the lead cast were African origin. But here 10 out 15 are African origin. This is a good move and also gives an additional sense of authenticity, (after all it is a movie based out of Africa) as I can discern the African accent in the dialogues.

Overall it was a good experience for me to watch the movie in theatre. But when I have to go back to my TV screen, I would still prefer the original one.

Movie Review – Maari 2

I like Dhanush, I like Tovino, I like Balaji Mohan and I liked Maari. So inspite of having a long list of movies to watch during my short vacation (2.0, Aqua man, Njaan Prakaashan), I still opted to squeeze some time for Maari 2.

Maari (1) was a fun movie for me. We have a list of fun movies that we might have watched a dozen times, but still don’t mind watching again (Soodhu Kavvum, naduvala konjam…, Naanum rowdythaan, Godha, Meesaya Murukku). Like a Singaravelan or Michael Madana… of yore. And Maari is one among them.

But expectations is a killer of even great movies. When you go expecting something and you get something else, obviously one gets disappointed and it colours your feelings about the movie. Same thing happened with me for Maari 2 also. My expectations (for a fun movie ) was even more increased after watching the “Sani-anna” promo.

https://youtu.be/P5xeupWm0z4

After watching the movie, I came to the conclusion that this promo was more fun than the entire movie.

Having given such a “build-up” for the pigeon racing in the last film, couldn’t there have been a single shot with them; at least as a background prop. Except for Maari, Sanikazhama and Adithaangi, there is not a single thing connecting to the old movie. Is that such a bad thing? Maybe not, it worked with Lage Raho Munnabhai, but when the story doesn’t even seem to be moving anywhere, you sort of crave for these nostalgic throwbacks.

Looks like somebody gave a feedback that Maari didn’t have enough fight scenes (that was another thing unique about Maari. I felt his “Mass”ness was more amplified in the scenes where a fight could have erupted, but it did not.) So in this movie there are fights and killings from the beginning till the end. There are some good Mass moments, Like, when I was wondering, doesn’t anybody have a coloured umbrella, there popped a bright red one, and cues a punch dialogue. Or when senjuduven becomes urichuduven. Or even when Maari and Kreshna re-enters during the climax block in their usual garb. But when one is squirming in the seat wondering why the movie didn’t finish at the interval block itself, it sort of gets lost.

An excellent Kreshna is brought in as an uyir nanban and an excellent Tovino is brought in as a God of Death. Maybe they were going for an Aghori kind of look, but frankly it did not work. Either the feel should be kept Indian or it should be kept Greek. Can’t mix both and expect to get the gravity of the naming and styling of the villain. And as an aside, what is it with Tamizh cinema needing their villains to be fair and handsome. Now that they are roundly being criticized for underperforming North Indian villains with bad lip sync, looks like they have started looking at their neighboring states to import the same. At least the acting is solid and lip sync is great.

But I enjoyed Sai Pallavi’s presence in the first half. She was a ball of fire and any comedy by Robo Shankar was also mostly when she was around. I was expecting a super duper dance song with her around, and Rowdy Baby was a cracker of a song, with typical Prabhu Deva moves.

Now, that is one expectation that was realised.

Book Review – Notes of a Dream

I have been looking forward to reading this book. I was not aware there are other biographies of AR Rahman. Anyways this one is touted to the “official” one. So, I just gave it a go.

Up to the first 8 chapters, it was a very frustrating read. What can be said in 5 word is being said in 25. This book seems to be more like a promotional book for AR Rahman’s Movie making debut – 99 songs. Throughout Phase 1 of the book (which has chapters 1-7), it mostly goes on and on about how humble AR Rahman is, how down to earth AR Rahman is, how shy AR Rahman is. Breaking news! Every person who grew up listening to his music knows this! And I felt this repetition very tedious. It is not just Phase 1, the entire book is written in this vein.

It is only from phase 2 of chapter 9, things started picking up. Movies are discussed, the albums are discussed. Even then, there are no personal details. The book just has the information that anyone can easily google up nowadays. for eg. if the movie Bombay is being discussed, it is common knowledge, what the story is, how the reception of the movie was at that time and what a phenomenal hit the songs were. Where is the personal element to all this? Where is the detailing of any problems that he went through? How did he cope up with it? How did he overcome it?

It is almost like, the author (therefore AR Rahman himself, since it is an “official” biography) is apprehensive about treading some toes. Every sentence, which may have some content which may be interpreted otherwise, there are atleast 5 sentences trying to justify it or sort of soften the blow. Eg. The book says that Saira, the wife of AR Rahman takes some tough business decisions. the sentence goes “She makes sure that everybody in his employ is working right. Nobody can fool around her”. Which is immediately followed by “This is because she loves him and does not want anything bad to happen to him or their family”. So now what is wrong in being a tough decision maker? Why does that sentence have to be qualified by love for the family? The entire book is sprinkled with similar examples and this makes the tone of the author more wishy-washy than humble.

But where Krishna Trilok shines is when he is picks up a song and describes it. Here finally, you hear the original voice of the author, because the rest of the book is just a wikipedia article. In these segments where he is trying to explain the feel of the song, we can feel through his words, the beauty of the song and its impact on people and specifically him.

Maybe the target audience of the book is not a person like me at all, a person who has grown up listening to his music, who can sing almost all his songs made in the 90s and 00s, a person who didn’t bother listening to any other music director maybe until Harris Jayaraj rocked the scene with Vaseegara. Since AR Rahman is looking at an international release for his movie, maybe he wants to market himself to the international community, to make them familiar about him, his music and his repertoire. And hence this book.

A candle has been lit.

I lit a candle today. And it must be after 20 years. I think it was 20 years, because I remember one time telling my maths teacher, that I didn’t do my homework because there was no power. After that, we have had UPS and even if power goes off, in the evening also, somebody will come to repair. But, this now, this is a place, which can take your life back to the primitives. Inspite of having so many technologies installed in the house – UPS (batteries are not akshaya pathram. They have to run out at some point), solar ( if you have a rainy week, then where is the sol in solar?), I had to finally take shelter under the humble old candle. (Thank god I had them).

And weekends are so sacred… It is a day of rest and wine, that even if some fifty households don’t have power, not a single finger will be lifted.

Speaking of “Thank God”, I think such episodes keep coming and going in life, just to make us appreciate the good things we have in life. Things we take for granted – 24 hours electricity, 24 hours water, 24 hours online banking, 24 hours medical shops, 24 hours hospital…. And on and on.

But all these seem like a boon only because we are used to it. What about for the people from places like here for whom all these things are a remote possibility, not possibility maybe a wild dream even.

When I see people living in mud houses, with no access to electricity or other amenities, I feel sorry for them. But when I do feel that, am I like those high minded missionaries who thought everybody else in the world are living a primitive life, and they need to be “rescued”, or were they better off left alone? A candle has been lit.

Misadventures of a vegetarian

I am a vegetarian by choice, living in a country which is strictly non vegetarian. In fact, I am sometimes looked at as a freak. Eating out, hence is a huge problem for me, because I have only four options – pizza, pasta, salad, potatoes. Also, this is a country which labels fish as vegetarian! (No kidding)

Anyways, for a change we went to a Greek restaurant. I like trying different cuisines as long as it is vegetarian. I went for a Meze platter and asked the waitress repeatedly in my broken French, which is vegetarian and which is non vegetarian. She showed me 3 dips, and confirmed they are “légume”, and I started having the obviously veg slices, with the dip.

I was very suspicious about the pink dip, coz I can’t think of any vegetables that can give this beautiful pink shade to the food. (Beetroot has a honking pink colour). So I called the waitress and asked her again whether it is vegetarian. And she, once again, confirmed yes. It was actually delicious. But I couldn’t let go off the nagging feeling. So i consulted Dr. Google for – Taramasalata

Taramasalata – is a Greek meze made from tarama, the salted and cured roe of the cod, carp, or grey mullet (bottarga) mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a starchy base of bread or potatoes, or sometimes almonds.

Am I still ovo lactose vegetarian if I eat fish eggs? 🤔

YouTube and TV series for preschoolers

Every baby nowadays seems to be having a smart phone. I guess now we cannot just wish away tabs and phones from the hands of children; we have gone way past that. Infact nothing works on a cranky toddler like a video when we are at the pediatrician’s office waiting for our turn. Atleast what we can do is give them quality content. I’ve done a lot of searching and watching myself. So I am going to list the ones I’ve found useful in terms of fun and education (in no particular order)

Super Simple Learning – YouTube

There are many many many channels on YouTube offering their versions of nursery rhymes. But I’ve found a lot of them too loud, bright and basic animations without much creativity. Basically videos ripped off from the numerous educational CD available in the market. But this channel has reimagined all nursery rhymes to integrate additional learning aspects into the song. For eg Row Row Row your boat has an animation of a couple rowing through the different seasons, and along with the seasons even the couple grow older. Soft music, rich animation and meaningful bodies are the hallmark of this channel. Also their associated website has printable learning materials that can be used in conjunction with each song. So this one has a big thumbs up from me.

Octonauts – TV series

This TV series is about a group of anthromorphic animal rescuers, basically rescuing sea creatures. It has whimsical characters like a panda chief, a penguin nurse, a bunny mechanic, a pirate cat etc. Octonauts is not just fun, but each ten min episode is packed with a lot of information about water creatures, water bodies, natural phenomena underwater etc and introduces concepts in a simple manner perfect for preschoolers. Also, teamwork, appreciation, problem solving are themes integral to the show, so hopefully children will absorb these qualities subconsciously.

Dinosaur train

Not as fun as octonauts, nevertheless a good one. It has all the information about dinosaurs, the different periods, the different classifications in a story format. Also there is a short talk by a paleontologist at the end of each episode who takes you through fossils and other complicated concepts. Perfect for the little ones who love dinosaurs.

Cat in the Hat – TV series

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss is a classic. But this classic has spawned a whole line of books and TV series of the same character. These are not written by Dr. Seuss, but the writers have made sure the metrical nonsense of the original is also punched up with a load of information. The books are wonderful in itself, with each one taking up different concepts like human body, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, good habits, rainforest etc. Based on the books came the TV series, with just a few modifications – Sally and Dick became Sally and Nick (snigger, snigger). And whereas in the book, both characters were Caucasian, the series made one of them an African. It’s good. People have seriously started taking diversity in popular media and atleast there seems to be a balance in children’s content.

Little Einstein – TV series

Speaking about balance in representation of diversity, this TV series seems to have given a lot of thought before finalizing the characters. This series has 4 children ( two boys, two girls) with 2 of them being Caucasian, one African and one Asian. Hmmm… However the series is mainly about Europe where the children go on an adventure in each episode on their trustworthy rocket, along the way learning about different places, classical music (and their composers), famous paintings and their painters. It is a fun way to introduce children to arts, music and dance.

Conclusion

Little Einstein is a great concept and I wish there was an indigenous series in India which will similarly take children through the different states of India and introduce them to the different languages, arts, food and culture of the people. This will help children identify themselves more with the country than any force-feeding of nationalism does. 

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