Slumdog Millionaire

This movie is so full of it. The teenage kids can't act, the stereotypes are beaten to death and the juxtapositions are ridiculous. Life in the slums could not have been exaggerated, romanticized and yet contradicted into a weird concoction worse than this movie has.

The only way to watch the movie is to not take it seriously (as Boyle does sporadically); even though it deals with communal riots, child abuse, gangsters, sexual violence, poverty, social prejudice etc. After all, it dares to break into a self-mocking song and dance in the end of it all. "Hey, they are just celebrating the spirit of the youth and the triumph of the underdog! Just chill, will ya?" Sure.

I wonder what people like Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay) and Dev Benegal (Split Wide Open) have to say about this clueless caricature that deals with topics that are too many even for a quiz-game show.

PS. I liked the background score, though.

நித்திரையின் நிந்தனை

யார் அந்தப் பெண் என்று தெரியவில்லை. அவளோடு நல்ல பழக்கம் உள்ளது போல கடைத்தெருவில் பேசிக்கொண்டே வருகிறேன். நாங்கள் இருவரும் திருநல்வேலியில் என்ன செய்து கொண்டிருக்கிறோம் என்றும் தெரியவில்லை. சில நிமிட நடைக்குப் பிறகு அந்த இடம் வந்து விட்டது. உள்ளே இருந்து ஒரு குரல்,"உள்ள வாங்க தம்பி"
நான்: "இல்ல, பரவால்ல, லேட் ஆச்சு. போலாமா?"

சூழ்நிலை சற்று தெளிவாகியது. உள்ளே இருந்த ஆள் வீடுத்தரகர். எங்களுக்கு வாடகைக்கு சில வீடுகளைக் காட்டப்போகிறார்.
ஏதோ ஒரு வாகனத்தில் சிறிதுநேரப் பயணம். முதல் வீடு. ஒவ்வொரு அறையையும் நோட்டமிடுகிறோம். தரகிரடம் ஏதோ பேசுகிறேன். ஒரு கேள்வி மட்டும் நினைவில் உள்ளது; காரணம் அவர் கூறிய பதில்.

நான்: "வீடு மார்கெட்டுக்கு பக்கம் போல?"
தரகர்: "ஆமா தம்பி. ஆம்பளைக்கு அஞ்சு சந்து, பொம்பளைக்கு எட்டுச் சந்து" என்று சொல்லிச் சிரித்தார்.

உறக்கத்தின் அடைப்பில் சிக்கிய என் ஆழ்மனது, குழம்பிக், குலுக்கி போட்ட குப்பைகளில், நினைவில் இருக்கும் இக்கனவின் கடைசி வரி போன்று வேறெதுவும் என்னை பாதித்ததில்லை.

Note: 2

Pointers for the ignorant:
1. Dalit is not a caste. It's social identity that is constructed in order to subvert the demeaning status(es) accorded by the Hindu religion.
2. Dalit pride and Thevar/Gounder pride are not the same. People who cannot see the difference can be safely categorized as idiots.


This is no coincidence.

Caste: I am not, but I am

Anyone who even dabbles in academia, especially in the social sciences, would be wary of making a singular, essentialist statement about caste. Because, caste in contemporary India operates in several layers, constantly renegotiating their exertions with varying space and time. Socio-historical emplacement, political and economic disenfranchisement, aesthetic and racial overtones, and linguistic and symbolic violence are some of the layers that complexify the idea of caste in public discourse. Nevertheless, at the risk of being wordy and simplistic, I’ll try to present my understanding of caste in a way that is most relevant to an audience that browses through blogs like this. (In saying so, I do not mean to characterize the readers’ acumen one way or the other.)

Ideology vs. Social Reality

One of the primary attributes of caste is the identity it imparts on an individual. The identity is so rigid that even Marxist theorists have floundered in their assessments about caste. I have a friend who, at least according to him, grew up in an environment that allowed him to be oblivious of his caste identity. He wasn’t aware of his fellow students’ either. So caste, seemingly, played a minimal role in how he turned out. In one of our conversations I referred to him as a Brahmin and he objected to it. He said, “I don’t even know what it means to be a Brahmin and I don’t care if I am not one. Why do you want to make that association still?”

While many of us may not identify ourselves with any caste (or religion) anymore, we cannot ignore that it’s only in principle, and our actions as we understand it. My friend may have been unaware of his caste himself, but the environment probably wasn’t. Privilege is a relative idea that needs be situated to appreciate it. He, to a slightly lesser extent, I and a lot of us are privileged in that we were not made to sit out of class rooms, served tea in a separate tumbler, denied entry into a temple, and patronized by the government – some of the many forms of oppression the lower-caste individuals go through.

Being in this privileged position enables us to form a worldview that is often devoid of critical assessment of power structures that bind us. For we are not at the bottom of the pyramid; status quo, as long as it enables our mobility, is not a problem [1]. We make every reason to defend the substructures – like religious dogma, morality, partisan ethics, “merit” etc. – that limit the access to power to the others. The most disturbing aspect of this equation is the upper caste rhetoric that tries to conceal the underlying ruthless, ant-colony behaviour [2].

I remember a lecture during which one of my professors spoke about the time she realized she was white. She probably knew she was white all along, but it took that one moment to remind her how she’s different from the black or the brown. As she put it, “the realization didn’t change my race, but it urged me to racialize more issues.” The same applies to caste and a society where castes exist. I may detest my caste now, but I still would not be able to divorce the privilege it rendered – from within and by others – in the past and it may in future. We cannot stop “drawing casteist lines” until social reality re-orients itself with the ideology in pursuit.

The Social Brahmin

Who is a Brahmin? If I were to present an apologetic/defensive case, I would probably cite verses from the Gita or numerous other scriptures. I might even use a carefully concocted narrative that makes it all seem perfectly reasonable – as in Cho’s Enge Brahamanan. But a moral hierarchy is inherently problematic for any academic, whether he/she is a Marxist or a post modernist. The existentialist quest to be the “superior” – irrespective of the means and accessibility to the said quest – is of negligible importance.

What is important is the status of the social Brahmin (just like the social Hindu). Cho Ramaswamy, for instance, has often said that he is not a Brahmin because he doesn’t possess the “superior” qualities of one. I have seen many bloggers and other "internet individuals" take a similar stance. Quite ironically though, they have also mentioned “I’m a Brahmin by birth” elsewhere. Regardless of what their stance is, the priest in a temple would probably not recall Cho’s theoretical distancing from a Brahmin; and my light skinned friend is likely to get a better reception when he steps into an Alwarpet music store than I would.

These are only relatively subtle elements that elevate the social Brahmin. A theoretically rigorous and academic approach would delineate several factors – disputing the myths of cultural and racial superiority – that contribute to ‘the Brahmin success story’. It would be redundant for me to argue why there are more Brahmins in the elite educational institutions of India or why there is a disproportionate number of Brahmins abroad. So I can never sympathize, at least not as seriously, with a Brahmin who claims to be a social victim of some kind.

The "Excess"

Power and exploitation become central to any ideology if it can lend enough credence to its chastity. Brahminism, as an ideology that propagates rigid, hierarchical structures based on piety, vocation and its modern variants, is at the core of the caste system. It has been appropriated and re-asserted by several castes over several hundred years – the prominent ones being Gounder, Thevar, Chettiyar and lately Vanniyar. It may seem as if scholars, mainstream writers and bloggers ‘attack’ Brahmins more than other castes. But their ubiquitous presence in various media, quite ironically, is the very reason for the seemingly excessive criticism. There are more members from the Brahmin community defending some form of Brahminism in written media – mainstream or otherwise – than any other. Among all the upper castes it’s the Brahmins, at least in my observation, who are the least invisible in urban areas.

Frankly, I do not see any reason to tone down the criticism of someone who has the insolence to claim an essentialist, oppressive identity in public space – be it Brahmins or other upper-castes. What we need is not a reduction in censuring Brahmins, but increase in including Gounders, Thevars and Vanniyars. For the latter hold Brahminism not only in principle but execute it with utmost vengeance. The treatment of these castes in media like cinema – especially in movies like Chinna Gounder, Thevar Magan etc. – is reflective of the appalling insensibility that Tamils as a society have engendered.

If anyone is outraged by what’s been said so far because he/she belongs to a particular caste, he/she should ask himself/herself, “why do I care?”


[1] – Contrast the protestors, dressed in trek shoes and jeans, against the quota system with Dalits in tattered clothes protesting for basic human rights. The state’s indifference to either of them is a different issue in itself.

[2] - Upper in upper caste cannot be put in quotes because we are referring to a system in which hierarchy is intrinsic. To argue that all castes are equal -- by using quotes -- is flawed considering what constitutes caste.

Consuming Music: School days

Music, as I consciously heard and enjoyed for the first time, came out of a radio. Even though we had a tape recorder at home, my father never got into the habit of buying cassettes. I still managed to listen to a lot of songs because of the people around my house. Someone or the other would tune into a station that's playing something from Tamil movies. Home to school, the songs would have a discontinued play as house after house, shop after shop would take the baton as I proceed in my bicycle. I even developed a common "talent": I used to be able to identify a song within a few seconds of it playing in the radio or whatever the source is. Sometimes I would sing through the entire song, word for word. I've even tried my hand at one of those school "singing competitions." That was Dindigul.

Even though Madras was quite different from Dindigul, I never had trouble "belonging". I went to a very 'middle-class' school. It didn't have too many rich kids, there was no play ground, we didn't speak any English among ourselves and the school wasn't big on "extra-curricular activities". Of course, it had a fair share of "Madras Brahmins" known for their ginormous gobs. They spoke more about cricket than playing any, giving a new meaning to the expression "vaayilaye vada sudrathu". Some of these kids would also sing -- because they'll be asked to -- something "carnatic" if the teacher fails to show up for a class and it's substituted by the music teacher (and you know where she comes from). I have a vague memory of an argument over Ilayaraja and A.R. Rehman with these people. I think I sided with Rehman.

Meanwhile, my musical horizons were widening. No, I didn't learn to play anything. I listened to English music for the first time in my life, thanks to FM Radio and DD Metro. I was struggling quite a bit with the lyrics, though. I could probably make out 10-20% of what they said, but I was now able to appreciate -- however superficial it might have been -- the music and music videos that were produced in the 'West'. There was a subconscious sense of sophistication. My parents' aversion for western music -- the little I got to watch on DD -- validated the feeling.

The songs and the artists were still slippery and I thought the odd mention of Michael Jackson and Prince would suffice to achieve some "hipness" at school. But the dweebs who sat behind me knew more than just MJ. They were both Christian and knew how to play the piano too. I don't even remember any of the names they threw at me during our 'debates' about the "unoriginal music" Indian music-directors were churning out (hail sophistication!). Thankfully, though, they were too "ugly" to make me feel insecure.

Self consciousness is a tricky feeling to tackle, especially when you're young.

Higher Secondary: a lot of new kids from other schools -- usually, the scum of PSBB and KV -- got into mine. Even though these kids were rejects in a sense, they were walk-in alpha males in my school. They did not have to fight other males and establish their territory before their status was acknowledged. Because, they were representatives of the gentry -- they just colonized the rest of us. Yes, there was an untold us and them. Communicating in English and pulling "conventish" pranks on each other and some teachers, they were the quintessential post-pubescent "players". Pretentiousness, their 'game' platform. They were learning French while we were "stuck" with Tamil.

As for music, most of them didn't get beyond Aqua and Ricky Martin -- the most popular of pop music. However, there were a few who would mention Metallica and Aerosmith once in a while. I don't know how, but I became friends with these guys. They introduced me to rock music. As is the case with many, I didn't like rock music one bit. The first time I listened to Metallica I had a headache the whole night. Pop and techno had a straightforward appeal. So the two years in higher secondary didn't change too many things as far was my knowledge and exposure of non-Indian film music was concerned. Next stop, college.

You may be wondering what happened to girls in all of this. Fooling around with girls wasn't big in any of the schools that I went to. The teachers would go "fundamentalist" if they saw anyone "talking too much" with girls; it's worse if it's outside the school. Personally, I had a very low esteem in terms of sex appeal to be worried about girls. So internet porn was a better, non-judgemental alternative to keep my mid-teen curiosities under control. (Related podcasts: one and two.)

More in the next post.

PS. This post was inspired by the movie Ghost World. It became an instant favourite and I highly recommend it.


Just wanted to post this as a filler until I make a real post.

Stupid Me

I had not made any research about Bharathiraja's background until now and I assumed he was from a Dalit caste (because of his proverbial friendship with Ilayaraja). Turns out he is from the Thevar caste.
Now that I know the truth about Bharathiraja's caste, I'm so embarrassed by the misjudment. Damn! His movies and all makes sense now.


The health effects of second-hand smoking is one of the fiercely debated topics by policy makers and lobbyists in all countries. This debate has come to the fore again, at least in the Indian media and blogosphere, following the ban on smoking in public places.

A problem that I face almost everyday: when I get out of the subway and run to my office every morning -- when I'm panting and breathing heavily -- the sidewalk is hogged by a series of smokers. I usually try to get ahead of the smoker right in front of me only to find there's more. I don't know if going through this cycle everyday for a few years is going to give me lung cancer, what I do know is that it gives me a bad headache and nausea immediately.

Smoking in bars, restaurants and other such 'public places' has been banned for a long time in Canada. What's interesting, though, is that these are places that I can actually avoid. It's the 'public space' that I'm more concerned about. Especially busy sidewalks where one out of five is always smoking, making it virtually impossible to escape it. That gets us to the question on infringement of others' rights. If I called for a smoking ban on roads and parks, am I infringing on the smokers' rights to pleasure themselves? or is it the other way round? Whose rights is superior here?

Personally, this issue is a little too complex for me to take a stance. Because, I'm a proponent of the "right" to self-inflicted harm -- through drugs, adventure sports or masochistic outbursts -- as long as it doesn't drag others into it. But it's a very problematic stance in that people who "care" about you are affected invariably. It's even more problematic in countries like Canada where the State guarantees comprehensive health care to all its citizens. If I jumped from a building trying to kill myself and ended up alive with a broken spine, the State will not only prosecute me for attempted suicide, it will also spend public money to get my back straightened. (India's health care system may not be as good, but legally they are obliged to do the same.)

Cigarette is one of the heavily taxed commodities in Canada. The rationale behind it, in my opinion, is similar to auto insurance. A driver who is statistically more probable to get into an accident pays more premium. The same logic is applied in self selected health insurances: a person more prone to physical ailments -- generally based on his/her medical history and habits -- would be charged more premium. But in universal health care systems taxing the product directly is the only way to balance out, at least in principle, the extra burden caused by the high risk population. However, I'm not sure if kitchen knives and roofing equipment are taxed as much.

What's ironic in all of this is the opinions voiced by some self proclaimed anarchists. The idea of individual right stems only from the acceptance of a statehood and its legal system. Any system that is completely anarchic will still go through prohibition, compensation, risk and consensus before a practice is established as 'acceptable'. A characteristic shared by most States. So if the State deems that my right to not have a headache is superior to others' right to give me one, there is little to argue over it (unless it's with the State itself). Of course, the anarchists do not have any other option because they exist, in most cases, within a State. For they cannot escape statehood and still proclaim the space that gives them the "right" to be anarchic.

So all the talk about rights boils down to one perspective: I think smoking should be banned wherever I go. And if I were a smoker, I would probably say the opposite.

Found This-2

Route: Basemant Jaxx Romeo->Bond Shine->here

Space Monkeys

The order of events in space exploration, at least as far as the US is concerned, seems to have followed an interesting logic.

NASA sent several monkeys into the space before it decided to send a man (can't use a gender neutral man/woman here, can I?). The rationale, of course, would have been that monkeys are probably the biologically closest to humans and yet the most 'affordable' life forms at a human's place.

Appollo 8 was the the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon and was one of the most widely covered events in that decade. The astronauts who were sent after the monkeys took the first picture of the Earthrise. And it so happened that the astronauts who were sent after the monkeys had to spend their Christmas orbiting the moon. In a live telecast during the Christmas eve, the astronauts who were sent after the monkeys tried to make the moment poignant by reading a few lines from the Old Testament that went, "[I]n the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth." (Rest of the quote.)

When the astronauts who were sent after the monkeys returned to Earth, they were sued by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Even though the case itself was dismissed on dubious grounds, it made sure that NASA sent slightly evolved primates -- not just from monkeys -- in its future missions.

The Movie Experience

Audience manipulation is one of the oldest tricks of the trade as far as movies are concerned. It's a complex topic that often calls for nuance when one tries to differentiate 'realistic' narrative progression from 'contrived' haul of boxed plot points. But as in many of these discussions it's always easy to point extremes to state your initial case - to say what you mean by manipulation. The underdog that emerges victorious in the end and the wronged, just man getting his revenge are some of the most common and easiest to point.

It should be noted that 'manipulative' scenes can have the effect of any 'genuinely' moving scene. While it may get some teary eyed and "heavy", the contextualization outside of the movie cannot be ignored. It is especially true with scenes that try to shock you, some quite literally. Videos like these demonstrate the point best. It sure evokes a basic human emotion - fear - but there's little that is creative or original about it. You can draw a direct parallel between such videos and typical Tamil "family drama's" climax monologues.

Here, the movie Dogville makes for interesting case study. Because it's not completely relevant to go into what the movie is about, I'll take the liberty to just link you the reviews that summarize it closely: review 1; review 2. Assuming you've either seen the movie or read at lease one of the reviews, I'll proceed further. Nicole Kidman's character Grace is subjected to all kinds of abuse and exploitation by other characters of the movie for longer than what's generally tolerable for the viewer. It's akin to those 60s Indian movies in which the woman who personifies all things "good" is tortured (read buttered) endlessly for a climactic gush of redemption. Even the apparent plot twists become rather predictable if you're conscious of the movie's length. For example, about 2 hours into the movie Grace tries to escape from the vicious town and you know it's not going to happen. Because, there's almost an hour's movie left. What are they going to show? Grace starting a new life in a new town? Of course not.

There is very little to like about what the characters do for the most part of the movie; Grace being the worst of the lot. Traditionally, this kind of character has to do something drastic, one way or the other, to vindicate herself before the movie ends. But Dogville goes far beyond manipulation, what it does is audience abuse. It literally makes you sick to the stomach through most of its playing time. Because, for whatever reason, many believe that movies and marathons "have to be finished" once begun. Grace and her gangster father's philosophical musing over power and moral relativism in the end can only be characterized as juvenile. The "illustration", as one of the characters, Tom, puts it, isn't as "vivid" as it may appear. Yet, some critics have a "was worth the torture" kind of take on it.

This is an interesting dimension in itself. There are real life examples that are somewhat along the same lines: 1. waiting hungry in a crowded restaurant for the food to arrive; 2. waiting on the queue of a roller coaster ride. Anticipation and uncertainty (or certainty) are the foremost emotions that construct the experience for us. However, generally it's the finale -- something that completes the experience -- that decides our after-thoughts on the experience. But in either scenario, I would be outraged if I realize that I've been forced to wait just so that the I'm ready to appreciate anything they offer in the end. It's even worse when it happens in movies: because, the denouement is only part of the product, not the product itself. A tricky aspect of the art -- constructing the experience -- seems to be misinterpreted often by critics and moviegoers in general. They probably fail to realize that not all share the same threshold when it comes to standing 'manipulation'. Because, "switching off" doesn't come as easily for many.

I remember reading somewhere that a "movie is not a string of interesting scenes." But the way I watch most of the movies -- at home, in my computer or TV -- I am actually fine with a movie that doesn't fit that rule. Of course, what's interesting is debatable.

vetti post - 12

Because this is my blog, I'll use it make an announcement that doesn't really mean anything to others but would give me the superficial satisfaction of being "honest."

I stopped eating meat little over five years ago. When I stopped, I had some ethical, philosophical reasons; three years later, after some reflection on certain things, I didn't really subscribe to those reasons but remained a non-meat eater anyway. (I did a podcast on this topic a year ago.)
For at least 2 years I was quasi-vegetarian for no particular reason. But in the last two months I happened to cook more meat dishes than usual, because I had/I was at more get-togethers than usual. So I tried a lot of new dishes and was "forced" to taste the food. Then tasting became eating when I was lazy and had nothing else to eat.

Basically, I want to say that I've been eating meat once in a while for the last two months. So I'm now a non-vegetarian. Having returned to this status, however, I'm not all too excited about it. Somehow non-vegetarian food has lost its appeal. I think I'll become a quasi-vegetarian again, soon.

சாரு நிவேதிதா - காற்றடைத்த பையடா

குறிப்பு: சாரு நிவேதிதா கூறியுள்ள சிலவற்றை இந்த வலைப்பதிவில் சிலமுறை மேற்கோள் காட்டியுள்ளத்தால் அவரின் ரசிகன் நான் என்பது போல தோற்றம் வரக்கூடும்; அதை தெளிவு செய்யவே இந்த இடுகை. பின் வரும் கருத்துக்கள் அனைத்தும்' இல் இதுவரை வெளிவந்துள்ள சாரு நிவேதிதாவின் எழுத்துக்களை மட்டும் அடிப்படையாகக் கொன்டவை. எழுத்துப்பிழைகளை தயவு செய்து மன்னிக்கவும்.

'கடிதம்' என்ற பேரில் சாரு நிவேதிதா வெளியிடும் ஜால்ரா வாக்குமூலங்கள் எல்லாம் சென்னை தொலைக்காட்சி நிலையம் எதிரொலி கடிதங்களை விட மோசமாக இருந்து வருகின்றன.

"சுண்டைக்காய் பொறியல் அருமை, இது போல் மேலும் சமையல் குறிப்புகளை செ.தொ.நி தயாரிக்க வேண்டும்" என்பது போல், சாரு சமீப காலமாக எழுதி வரும் விஷயமற்ற வெற்று "காதல் கடி" SMS களை கூட புகழ ஆட்கள் இருப்பது ஒன்றும் ஆச்சர்யபடுத்தவில்லை. தமிழ் சினிமாவின் அவல நிலை பற்றி வாய் கிழிய பேசும் சாரு, அதற்கு ஆதாரமாக இருப்பதே தமிழ் சினிமாவில் உள்ள "கலைஞர்களின்" மமதை என்றும் தெரிந்திருக்க வேண்டும். அந்த மமதைக்கு காரணமே வெத்து வேட்டு நடிகர்களை புகழக்கூட பல அடிப்பொடிகள் இருக்கிறார்கள் என்பதுதான். இந்த கருத்தை ஏதோ நன்கு உள்வாங்கிக்கொண்டு பேசுவது போல் இவர் கமலையும் ஜெயலலிதாவையும் ஒப்பிட்டுபேசியது நகைப்புக்குரியது. (அந்த ஒப்பீட்டில் எனக்கு எந்த கருத்து வேறுபாடும் இல்லை என்பது வேறு விஷயம்.)

இதுவரை சாரு விமர்சனம் என்று கூறிக்கொண்டு பதில் எழுதியது அனைத்தும் விமர்சனங்களே இல்லை. ஏதோ "நான் ஏத்தி விடுவணாம், நீ எடுத்து குடுப்பியாம்" என்பது போல சப்பானிதனமான கேள்விகள், அதற்கு மேம்ப்போக்குத்தனமான பதில்கள்; அதுவும் அத்தி பூத்தாற்போல். பெரும்பாலும் பிரசுரிக்கப்படும் கடிதங்கள் அனைத்தும், எழுதியவர் இவரை எப்படி எல்லாம் உயர்வாக நினைக்கிறார், அல்லது சாரு ஏன் ஒரு இலக்கியப் புலி என்று அவர் கருதிகிறார், அல்லது எப்படியெல்லாம் இவரை முத்தமிட விரும்புகிறார் என்பதாகத்தான் இருக்கின்ற. புகழை விரும்பாதவன் என்று பிரகடனம் செய்து கொண்டு இம்மாதிரியான வெற்றுப்பிரசுரங்கள் எதற்கு என்று தெரியவில்லை? இவர் மிக உயர்வாக மதிப்பிடும் எழுத்தாளர்கள் இப்படித்தான் "முதுகு சொறி" கடிதங்களை வெளியிட்டுக்கொண்டும் தன் ஏதோ ஒரு படைப்பை மட்டும் "உலக தரம்" என்றும் பினாத்திக்கொண்டு இருந்தார்களா என்று தெரியவில்லை.

இவரின் எழுத்துக்களில் உள்ள ஆணாதிக்கத்தன்மை, அவசியமற்ற போலி அழகியல் கூறுகள் என்று பல விமர்சனங்களை முன்னிறுத்தி பல முறை நானே இவருக்கு மின்னஞ்சல் அனுப்பி உள்ளேன், அவை எதற்குமே இதுவரை பதில் வரவில்லை (அவர் எதையும் பிரசுரிக்க மாட்டார் என்பது எனக்கு தெரியும், சுருக்கமான பதிலாவது வரும் என்று எதிர்பார்த்தேன்). காமம் சார்ந்த ஒழுங்கியல், அதன் வரலாற்று அதிகார இருப்பிடங்கள் குறித்த எந்த ஒரு கட்டுடைப்பு சார்ந்த ஒப்பீடோ, கருத்தாக்கமோ இல்லாமல் வெறுமனே இவர், இவரின் நண்பர்கள் பலர் இளம் பெண்களுடன் பரிமாறிக்கொள்ளும் sms' களையும், தொலைபேசி உரையாடல்களையும் வெளியிடுவதன் நோக்கம் என்னவென்று தெரியவில்லை (other than feeding aged, male, sexually frustrated minds. It's sure a noble cause if that is it). இவற்றை எந்த போர்னோ ரகத்திலும் சேர்த்த முடியாது. of course, இந்த கூட்டத்தில் ஒரு இளம் ஆண் ஒரு முதிர்ந்த பெண்ணுடன் ஏற்படுத்திக்கொள்ளும் உறவு பற்றி ஒன்றும் எழுத மாட்டார். கேட்டால் எனக்கு அம்மாதிரி நண்பர்கள் இல்லை என்பார். ஏன் இப்படி உங்கள் கதைகளில் புளுகுகிறீர்கள் என்று கேட்டால் மட்டும் "இது புனைவு" என்று அங்கலாய்ப்பார். ஆனால் ஒரு முதிர்ந்த பெண்ணின் காம உணர்வுகள் பற்றி மட்டும் புனைய மாட்டார். தமிழ் சமுதாயத்தின் உடல் சார்ந்த அடக்கு முறைகளை அகற்ற இவர் போல் பாடுபடுபவர்கள் இல்லைதான்.

சாருவின் திரைப்பட விருப்பு வெறுப்புகள் (குறிப்பாக சமீபத்ய விருப்புகள்) பற்றி கேட்கவே வேண்டாம்: பருத்திவீரனின் ஆணாதிக்க கதாநாயகன் புதுமை என்று சொன்னது முதல் மொக்கை-திருட்டு-மாயாஜால கலவையான ஓம் ஷாந்தி ஓம்'இல் உள்ள பின் நவீனத்துவ கூறுகளை கண்டறிந்தது வரை சாருவின் சினிமா கூர்மை பல சமயங்களில் மழுங்கியிருக்கிறது.

இது எல்லாவற்றையும் விட என்னை மிகவும் எரிச்சலூட்டியது சாருவின் சமீபத்திய வித்தை: வலைத்தளத்தில் இவர் படித்து ரசித்த கென் - கென்னை - தன் வாரிசு என்று அறிவித்தது. பாசிசம் பற்றியும் அதிகார மையங்கள் பற்றியும் பீராயும் அதிபுத்திசாலி சாரு, இந்த "வாரிசு" வித்தையை எந்த ரகத்தில் சேர்ப்பார்? கென் சாருவிடம் போய் "ஐயா நான் உங்கள் பரம ரசிகன், உங்களை நான் என் தந்தைக்கும் மேலாக நினைக்கிறேன், ஆதலால் என்னை உங்கள் வாரிசாக அறிவியுங்கள்" என்று மன்றாடினாரா? (கென் பிறகு சாருவுக்கு கடிதம் எழுதியது, அந்த கடிதத்தில் இருந்த விஷயங்கள் எல்லாம் வேறு; இங்கு சம்மந்தம் இல்லை. தெருவில் போகும் ஒரு முதியவர், சும்மா எதிரில் வரும் என்னை பார்த்து "நான் உன்னை ஆசிர்வதிக்கிறேன்" என்று கூறினால், நான் நினைப்பேன் "பெருசு ஏதோ சொல்லுது, அது மனசு நோகாதமாறி எதாச்சும் சொல்லிட்டு நடயகட்டு". அது போலத்தான் கென் எழுதிய பதில் கடிதம்.)

அடுத்து இவர் கருணாநிதி பற்றி உருவாக்க நினைக்கும் மாயை. ஏதோ கருணாநிதி போன்ற ஒரு பரம சாதுவை இங்கு பாக்கவே இயலாது என்பது போல் எழுதிக்கொண்டிருக்கிறார். காமராஜர் ஆட்சி (அப்பா சரி, பக்தவச்சலம் ஆட்சி) கழகங்களுக்கு கைமாறியபோது தமிழகத்தில் ஊழலும் சாராயமும் மட்டும் நுழைந்துவிடவில்லை; குண்டர் கலாச்சாரம், கட்டப்பஞ்சாயத்து என்ற பல எழவுகளுக்கு வித்திட்டவர் இந்த கருணாநிதி. அண்ணாமலை பல்கலைகழக மாணவர்கள் படுகொலை முதல் மதுரை தினகரன் அலுவலகம் எரிப்பு (மூன்று பேர் கொலை) வரை கருணாநிதியுடன் நேரடி தொடர்புடைய வன்முறை சம்பவங்கள் பலவற்றை நினைவு கூறலாம். காழ்புணர்ச்சி என்பது ஜெயலலிதாவுக்கு மட்டும் உள்ள பிரத்தியேக பண்பு என்றால், இவர் விஜயகாந்தின் கட்டிடங்களை இடிப்பது எவ்வகை உணர்ச்சியின் அடிப்படை என்று புரியவில்லை. ஆனால் ஒன்று, இதெல்லாம் தி.மு.க தொண்டர்கள், அழகிரி, குறிப்பிட்ட வாரியத்துறை அமைச்சர், அரிவாள், புல்டோசர் கொக்கிமுனை இத்தியாதி, இவர்கள்தான் செய்தார்கள் என்று கூறி அறிவிப்பாடம் எடுக்காமல் இருந்தால் சரி.

கிசுகிசு பாணியில் "அந்த எழுத்தாளர்", "இந்த எழுத்தாளர்" என்று ஒரு எழுத்தாளரை கூட நேரடியாக விமர்சனம் செய்ய தைரியமில்லாத சாரு, "அவர் ஜெயலலிதாவை இம்மாதிரி விமர்சனம் செய்வாரா?" என்று கேட்கிறார். சரி, இவர் சொல்வது போல "அந்த எழுத்தாளருக்கு" (அநேகமாக ஞானியை சொல்கிறார் என்று நினைக்கிறேன்) ஜெயலலிதாவை விமர்சனம் செய்ய தைரியமில்லை என்றே வைத்துக்கொள்வோம் (ஞானி ஜெ'வை கடுமையாக விமர்சித்து பல முறை எழுதியிருக்கிறார் என்பது வேறு) - ஆக ஜெ'வை விமர்சனம் செய்ய தைரியம் இல்லையென்றால் கருணாநிதியின் ஊழல், குடும்ப அரசியல் பற்றியும் எழுதக்கூடாது, அப்படித்தானே? ஆஹா, அற்புதமான லாஜிக். கருணாநிதியின் முரசொலி மிரட்டல்கள் முன்பு போல திராவிடக் கைக்கூலிகளால் பொருட்படுத்தப்படுவதில்லை, அவ்வளவுதான். அவர் வேண்டுமானால் இன்றும் ம்' என்றால் தீக்குளிக்க ஆயிரம்பேர் வருவார்கள் என்ற கனவில் வாழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கலாம். கருணாநிதியின் இந்த சின்னப்புத்தியையும், அதன் பயனற்ற தன்மையையும் கருணாநிதியின் பரந்த உள்ளம் போல பாவிக்க வேண்டுமென்று சாரு விரும்புகிறார் போலும். மஞ்சள் துண்டு, மண்ணாங்கட்டி என்று பாசாங்கு காட்டிவிட்டு "கருணாநிதியை விமர்சனம் செய்துவிட்டேன் பார்" என்று சாரு சொன்னால், கேட்டுக்கொண்டு ஆமாம் சாமி போட அவர் ரஜினியும் இல்லை, நாங்கள் ரஜினி ரசிகர்களும் இல்லை. இன்றைக்கும் அழகிரி பற்றி பேசச்சொன்னால் மூச்சா போகும் சாரு, "யாரையும் அஞ்சாமல் விமர்சிப்பது" பற்றி ரொம்பத்தான் சவடால் அடிக்கிறார். "பாரதி போல் நான் தைரியசாலி இல்லை" என்று கூறி பம்மாத்து செய்துவிட்டால் இவர் சாயம் வெளுத்துப்போகாது என்று எண்ணிவிட்டாரா என்ன?

இவரின் நண்பர் கனிமொழி தேர்தலின்றி - பல மூத்த "தொண்டர்கள்" இருக்க, வெட்கமின்றி - நாடாளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் பதவியை ஏற்றுகொண்டது பற்றியும் சாரு வாய் திறக்க மாட்டார். அவர் அதிகாரத்தால் நடக்கும் சிபாரிசுகளை பயன்படுத்தவும் இவர் தயங்க மாட்டார் (காவல் துறை ஆணையர் அலுவலகம் சென்றது - ஒரு முறையேனும், விமர்சனதுக்குரியதே). இதையெல்லாம் கேட்டால் "இந்தியாவில் நடப்பது ஜனநாயகமே இல்லை, தமிழ்நாட்டு அரசியலில் எந்தக்கட்சிதான் குடும்ப அரசியல் நடத்தவில்லை" என்று கூறி கனிமொழிக்கு தலையயை சுற்றி மூக்கைத்தொட்டு கொடி பிடிப்பார்.

இப்பேர்ப்பட்ட ஒருவர்தான் விளிம்பு நிலை மனிதர்கள் பற்றி எழுதிக்கிழிக்கிறார்? இவர் பணத்தை எப்படி செலவிடுகிறார் என்பது பற்றியோ எங்கே உணவு உண்கிறார் என்பது பற்றியோ நான் விமர்சனம் செய்யப்போவதில்லை. இவர் சொல்வதுபோல் "நான் ராஜ வாழ்கை தான் வாழ்வேன்" என்றால் வாழ்ந்துவிட்டுப்போகட்டும். ஆனால் "முன்னூறு ரூபாய் குடுத்து சோறு தின்னால்தான் செரிக்கும்" என்றால், முப்பது ரூபாய்க்கு முனியாண்டி விலாசில் பிரியாணி தின்பவன் எல்லாம் முட்டாளா? அல்லது ருசி தெரியாத சொரணை கெட்ட ஜென்மமா? இவரின் "ராஜ வாழ்க்கையை" "விளிம்புநிலை மனிதர்களுக்கு" தெரியப்படுத்தி என்ன சாதிக்க விரும்புகிறார்? அதே நேரம் தான் பிச்சைக்காரன் போல பத்து ரூபாய்க்கு சிங்கி அடிப்பது பற்றி சொல்லிவிட்டால் இவர் "விளிம்பு நிலை மனிதர்களின்" பிரச்சனைகளை எதிரொளிப்பதுபோல் ஆகிவிடும் என்று என்னுகின்றாரா?

இந்த லட்சணத்தில் ஜெயமோகன் தன் மகன் பத்தாம் ஆண்டு மதிப்பெண் பற்றி எழுதியது குறித்து விமர்சனம் வேறு. இவர் தன் மகன் கார்த்திக் பற்றி மட்டும் அகோ ஓஹோ என்று எழுதுவார், கார்த்திக் நியுசிலாந்து சென்று எடுத்த படங்களை வெளியிடுவார். பொது ஒழுக்க நெறி, நல்லெண்ணம், மனிதாபிமானம் எல்லாம் பாசிசத்தின் அடிப்படைகள் என்று வாதிடும் சாரு, தன் மனைவி ஒரு ஏழைக்கு புடவை கொடுத்தது பற்றி புளகாங்கிதம் அடையவோ, அதே அடிப்படையில் தன் மகன் எப்படி உயர்ந்தவன் என்று சொல்லவோ தயங்குவதில்லை.

சாரு பற்றி அவர் இணையத்தளத்தில் வெளியிடப்படும் எழுத்துக்களை மட்டும் வைத்தே அவரை இன்னும் பல விமர்சனங்களுக்கு ஆட்படுத்தலாம், ஆனால் அதற்கு நேரமோ அவசியமோ இல்லை. இதுவரை படித்த விமர்சனங்கள் ஏற்புடயதாகப்பட்டால் மற்ற விஷயங்கள் தானாகவே புலப்படும். இல்லையென்றால் இது வெறும் "அவதூருகளாக்தான்" தெரியும்.


கமல் கிட்டத்தட்ட ஜெயலலிதாவைப் போல் ஆகி விட்டார் என்று நினைக்கிறேன். ஜெயலலிதாவைத்தான் யாரும் கட்சிக்குள்ளிருந்து விமர்சிக்க முடியாது. விமர்சிப்பவன் விரோதி என்ற தர்மம் அக்கட்சியினுடையது. மற்றும் , எல்லோருமே அவரை புரட்சித்தலைவி என்றே அழைக்க வேண்டும் ; நினைக்க வேண்டும். அதே போல் கமலை யாரும் விமர்சிக்க முடியாது. விமர்சித்தால் அவர் கமலின் விரோதி ; கமலின் சினிமா ஆர்வத்தைப் புரிந்து கொள்ளாத முட்டாள். மேலும் , அவரை உலக நாயகன் என்றே கருத வேண்டும். அப்படிக் கருதாதவருக்கு ஏதோ மோசமான உள்நோக்கம் இருக்கிறது. இதுதான் கமலின் இப்போதைய நிலை.

Disclaimer: I don't agree with every assessment Charu Nivedita has made on different movies. Notable disagreements with his take on Gautam Menon, Ameer and Mozhi.

Roast of Kamal Haasan (or Dasavatharam)

Download mp3

1-5.00: random stuff
7-00 - 13.00: Chaos theory and its popularity (quite boring, you may want to skip it)
17.00 - 25.00: scenes in the movie
28.00 - 35.00: Kamal the sucker (and Kamal the sell out)
35.00-45.00: random stuff

Edit: This is one of the articles I referred to, to refresh on Chaos theory's application

hahaha, paradhesi

Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Marat Safin in the second round Wednesday, ending the Serb's chances of testing his theory about Roger Federer's vulnerability.


Five people, accompanying the body of a youth who died in an accident, were killed when the ambulance they were travelling in plunged into a river on Saturday.

Applaud, I'm a jackass

I've been a regular visitor of for the last several months, mostly to watch interviews. There is a marked difference between interviews here and those you see in TV. Some of the interviews have been simply outstanding. Kutty Revathi, Mahendran, Nasser - (all offline) - and Thamizharuvi Maniyan are some that I liked the most. I was all the more excited when Gnani entered the arena with 'Gnani Pesukiren'. Gnani has had a left leaning approach to most of the issues he has dealt with in the past, so I expected his interview to be very incisive and sharp. And they were, for the most part.

His recent interview with director Ameer exposed what an immature idiot Ameer is. He not only refused to address Gnani's criticisms but also stifled the possibility of having a civilized conversation. Constantly getting into petty squabbles, it was a sad display of egomania. Because, Gnani eventually stooped low to Ameer's level (albeit only for a short time). Then I tried to find if anyone has blogged about this interview and landed on the video below (almost a year old).

Needless to say, Ameer's convoluted defense seem to find admiration among many who had assembled there (definitely among those who had commented for the video). The exchange reminded of some that we have had in this blog, but more specifically this. Just to quote a part of the exchage:
Let's agree that 'Pokkiri' is a bad movie, then we shall discuss why it exists and what purpose it serves - that's where honest subjectivities creep in.
I'll quote what I said again,
"1. Pokkiri provides an escape from the troubled realities of the audience. kuthu songs lighten up their spirits. Movies like Pokkiri are essential for the smooth functioning of the society. 2. We cannot criticize it just because you don't like it. It's all subjective."
There are two syllogisms that don't quite flow together. The former doesn't warrant the latter. While Pokkiri may be 'essential' it's not "subjective bias" that leads you to criticize the movie. That's why I gave that example - a false syllogism that is widely used.
I haven't seen '300' yet, but assuming that Scott was right in his criticism (I don't know what value the word 'right' holds in these discussions) and if you contrast it with the movie's apparent BO success -- it may not say that 99% of those who paid for it are fucktards -- it does say that 99% of them are people who don't mind being unsophisticated fucktards for 90 minutes. People's willingness to take shit once in a while should not been mistaken as people value shit.
All art forms are subjective, but there is some universality that has evolved over time (much to our dismay). It's one of the "necessary evils" I suppose - but it exists. That's how we produce and communicate through art forms. Even the weirdest of artistic expressions won't appeal if the weirdness isn't visible - if it is limited just to the artist 's understanding of it. Of course, that brings us to the whole "do we consume how it's supposed to be consumed?" debate.
But in spite of all these complexities, I think it's intellectual dishonesty to say that "Mahanadhi and Pokkiri are good movies. It's just that I hate Pokkiri. But I'm sure a lot of others like it, which makes it no worse than Mahanadhi."

Yes, it's all been said several times over, but I still couldn't stop myself from flooding the video with comments.

It's interesting that people even tried to have this kind of QnA session with all these people present together. A melee would have been inevitable had this pseudo exchange continued a little longer. It was a major irony when Ameer mentioned Mahendran to drive a shallow point. If only he knew the things Mahendran had said in his interview in Kumudam (in spite of making some of the most decent movies in Tamil).

On a different note: I don't really find any difference between SJ Surya, Chimbu and Ameer (and probably hundreds of others whose interviews I haven't seen).


The Sabarimala shrine in Kerala is in the news again this time about a divine light, which they have admitted has no celestial origin but is a manmade fire.
Both the government and the temple have for the first time admitted that it is not a celestial occurrence but a fire lighted by men.


I am playing chess. A chat window pops up:

Friend (6:40:33 AM): hey
Friend (6:41:15 AM): you there?
Friend (6:41:42 AM): helllllooo

I think of replying "enda mayiru kathra?", but I pause. I minimize the chat window and continue my game.

Suresh (7:10:53 PM): Sorry, I wasn't around when you messaged me earlier.
Friend appears to be offline and will receive your messages after signing in.


Either choose the "both are acceptable" stance and move along or choose the 'right', although often archaic, version.
So there's a desi moron that I know who's constantly trying to outsmart me. His latest was this: "Suresh, it's not a rooter, but a rowter". Well, no, you nitwit. Rowter is a tool used in carpentry, rooter is the computer device you and I are referring to. idha naan sollala, Oxford dictionary solludhu, so indhaa kallu, oru oramaa poi mandaya odhachukko!

PS. We are, of course, talking about router.


IPL: Mumbai Indians vs. Kings XI Punjab

Greg Chappell: Pathan to Uthappa. Uthappa swings, the ball hits the helmet. (Uthappa removes the helmet to adjust it.) Looks like the helmet has left its imprint on Uthappa's head...oh it's actually his haircut.

WTF: Cyber Crime?

Twenty-two-year old Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid was arrested by the cyber crime cell of Pune police last Friday from Gurgaon in Haryana for posting vulgar content about Congress president Sonia Gandhi on social networking site Orkut.

Vaid had posted the content in an Orkut community titled 'I hate Sonia Gandhi'.

Vetti post-10

Some right wing extremists used to comment that the US should bomb the Mecca on its most populous day and put an end to a big percentage of their foes. I know, it's the most barbaric thing to say. Only mindless drunk men can think of such things.

I don't drink or do drugs. But I still think the theatres screening Kuruvi should be hit with tomahawk missiles when they are 'houseful'.

PS. I cannot honestly say that my emotions will be different if either of them actually happened.

Tamil politics: MGR, Hogenakkal etc.

I'm still not sure if I should publish this podcast. I have been "disrespectful" to many celebrities before, but I wonder what kind of people listen to that stuff and what's in store for me. A constant nag successfully made me moderate comments. I just hope that someone else doesn't make me change my phone number (I don't want to think about anything worse). Anyway, the title pretty much explains what the podcast is about. It has a lot of MGR bashing and some others.

Download mp3

Random Quote(2?)

Upper class culture cannot be conceded to the upper classes, because it is the toil and blood of the working classes that has made that culture at all possible.

Random Quote

அசோகமித்திரன் கணையாழியில் 40 ஆண்டுகள் ஆசிரியர் பொறுப்பில் இருந்தவர். அதில்தான் 30 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு மேலாக சுஜாதா கடைசிப் பக்கங்களை எழுதினார். ஒரு வகையில் இருவரும் சகாக்கள். அப்படிப்பட்டவர் சுஜாதாவின் மரணத்திற்கு எழுதியிருக்கும் இரங்கல் கட்டுரை என்ன தெரியுமா ? " சுஜாதா எங்கள் வீட்டுக்கு வந்திருக்கிறார். அப்போது என்னிடம் ஒரு கேமரா இருந்தது. அந்தக் கேமராவில் நாங்கள் ஒரு போட்டோ எடுத்துக் கொண்டோம்." ஐயா , என்னை நம்புங்கள். அவ்வளவுதான் இரங்கல் கட்டுரை. இப்படி ஒரு இரங்கல் கட்டுரை வேறு எந்த எழுத்தாளருக்காகவும் , உலகில் வேறு எந்த மொழியிலும் எழுதப் பட்டிருக்காது என்று நினைக்கிறேன். இருக்கட்டும் , எனக்கும் ஒரு சந்தர்ப்பம் வராமலா போகப் போகிறது ? ' நான் அசோகமித்திரன் வீட்டுக்குப் போனேன். அவர் ஒரு பூனை வளர்த்தார். அது என்னைப் பார்த்து மியாவ் என்று சொன்னது. நானும் மியாவ் என்று அதனிடம் சொன்னேன். ' எழுதுகிறேனா இல்லையா என்று பாருங்கள் அசோகமித்திரன்.



Act 1:
Three years ago, when I came here to study, I was one of the few international students that my department took in. I was also the only 'non-Chinese' student. Some might wonder what the Chinese are doing in sociology? Well, there's demography...and...well, there's demography. But the department made sure that students don't swim their way across either choosing just theory courses or methods courses -- some were mandatory. So whether they liked it or not, they had to take some theory courses and I often happened to be the only non-White student who spoke decent English.

A couple of them became good friends and they felt comfortable to discuss the readings with me (especially when they had to do presentations). Because it was their first year, their English was very hard to understand and making them understand what I was saying didn't seem any easier. Something that I cannot forget about those 2-3 hour conversations is the ensuing headache. It's not so much their accent or my frustration with "explaining things", it's the prolonged state of heightened concentration to hear every word (then match it with a word that made the best sense in that context and so forth). Any activity that requires you to have that kind of concentration for that kind of time is bound to have a bad side effect. Zoning out, like I used to do in schools and colleges, was not an option because it's a conversation that requires you to say more than "hmm, interesting", "that's so cool", "really? neat!" etc.

Anyway, eventually I was done with my coursework, they got better at their English and we moved on. I was more than relieved that the episode(s) was over.

Act 2:
When it's too cold to play anything outside, I just sit home and play chess, online. But I easily get suckered in those egomaniacal marathons that before you know, the room is no longer bright with sunlight. By now you've been staring into black and white squares and moving little pieces with absolute precision (at least as far as the physical motion is concerned) for hours together in a CRT monitor. This is the kind of thing that makes you wear glasses. But it has other effects on me as well: starting with the proverbial headache and then the annoying "I want to throw up" feeling. After all, it is one of "those" activities.

One of "those" days: it was last Saturday and I had been playing chess for at least 4 hours without moving an inch. I finally gather some "courage" and decide to break the cycle. I wanted to expose my eyes to wider boundaries and let my pupils relax. I tell myself, "ok, this is the last game. Get up even if you lose in 20 moves, I cannot take it anymore". Just then I hear someone knocking my door. I simply resign the game, get up and open the door. Wow, great! It's my new Chinese friend.

April 1

I don't really remember being all that creative to 'fool' someone on April the first. It's probably because I would get really annoyed after getting "fooled" by some retarded logic/process and I assumed mine wouldn't appear any better to others.

I did, however, very willingly take part in the no-nonsense ritual that was common in Dindigul and, based on some anecdotal knowledge, in few other cities (but Madras) -- splashing ink at your friends, cousins and at times, passers by in the street. Sometimes it also involved crushing tomatoes/bananas in the face. No, they don't just throw them at you; they get really close with absolute stealth and attack you from behind -- place the tomato at your face and squeeze the last drop of liquid down your eyes and nostrils. Usually there's someone to distract you, so it's a two men job (I don't really remember watching girls do this stuff).

The most irritating line we get to hear on April 1 is "annei, wheel suthudhu" from second and third grade students when we are pedaling in the hot sun. They all want to take part in this seemingly fun activity and want to feed their tiny, budding egos with being bold and clever. Little bastards.

Years have passed since then and there's not a lot of memories for me, for this day. Maybe where I lived in Madras had a lot to do with the dry spell since I left Dindigul. The schools were pretty lame too, there were no trees, no play grounds, just concrete pavements. Come to think of it, schools in Madras did not have the 'splash ink at the end of a major exam' ritual either.

PS. Try some of the featured videos in youtube (before April 2). They are all somewhat funny.

Socialistic nuisance

It's still winter here (mostly below zero), and I live in one of those buildings that has several individual apartments and just two 'main' entrances. It's safe to say that no one would want to open their windows any longer than 5 minutes (if they even thought about opening them). So smoking, in these months, becomes a very edgy subject in apartments where one of the two (or three) residents doesn't smoke. Even otherwise, I would imagine smokers themselves wouldn't want the stench to be absorbed by their clothes.

Whatever the case is, at any given time you'll find at least 4 to 5 people -- mostly men -- smoking right outside the 'main' door. And because of the continuous feed of the carcinogenic gas, the whole area -- the small room between the two doors, the mail box area, the lift area etc., -- reeks so much that one could almost faint (well, at least I feel like it). I wasn't going to ask them to stop smoking because they were well within their "rights". Besides, I don't exactly look like Shaquille O'Neal. So I just thought about it as I got into the elevator, "they have two choices: one is to smoke in their own apartments and give migraine to their room-mates, or put all the residents through a 'mild' headache for one or two minutes. hmmm, the guys outside must be socialists".

Of course, the third choice, if you have to mention, is to quit smoking altogether. But we don't want to go there, do we?

Vetti pride

Although I give rude replies to the comments that I get in my youtube 'channel' all the time, there are a few I don't 'approve' at all. To top it, I also send an annoying personal message to their inbox. And sometimes, I become so full of it that I post it someplace where I can look at it and go "cha, ennama think panraan?".


the mere fact that u have uploaded a clip on a public domain, allows all of us, 2 say whatever we want. and like what u yourself have said "dont tell me, what 2 say or like".
so practise what you preach Mr MGR! bet u r not married! mm why should we b surprised!!


About "freedom of expression":

Sure, it does allow us to say whatever we want. Only that I decide whether your nonsense will be posted in my channel. I'm not stopping your wimp-ass from uploading a video showing any part of you (or saying anything).

So there: your freedom of expression in my channel is under my control and I'm snipping it. Why? Because you are not worth it.
When you decide to make anything worthwhile in your channel and if I happen to comment on it, you may then want to reciprocate this arrogance. Until then, STFU. (And this is the last time I'm replying you.)

PS. This post may be a little contradictory to something that I might have said in the past, but what the hell?


I was mildly shocked to read that actor Raguvaran died. I think I feel bad about it.

adhu seri

Face the Nation: Does India feel Tibet is no longer a cause worth fighting for?

On the panel of experts (our emphasis) to debate the issue were former president of the Samta Party and sympathizer of the Free Tibet Movement Jaya Jaitly, member of Free Tibet Movement Dawa Lokyitsang and Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

After some usual exchange of stupid ideas, it was time to witness a spectacle. Singhvi asked the anchor before launching his rhetoric, "[d]id the 'Tienanmen Square incident' take place in 1999?", for which she promptly replied, "yes". Having "confirmed" that "fact", he went on, "what did the NDA do when the Chinese government was killing all those people? naan ketkiren....". (Of course, I'm quoting roughly what he said.)

Why should one worry when we have such "experts" among us?

ek gaun mein

Vetti Post - 9

It was the summer holidays of the year 1993 and I used to listen to a comedy gig by 'Babu-Gopu' in a cassette player. It had a lot of actors (i.e. impersonated voices) put together in interesting scenarios. There was a very funny line that I can never forget.

Scenario: All the actors are gathered in TN assembly as elected representatives (on both ruling and opposition sides). The speaker starts the day with 'thamizh thaai vaazthu'.

Chorus: paandiyanin raajiyathil uiyyalaala (because, Rajini is the ruling party leader)
Kamal: idhuva thamizh thaai vazthu? (and sings angrily) oru vaai kozhupedutha...thamizachi paal kudichavan da!
Goundamani: yow! appa naanga mattum enna vellakarichi paalaya kudichu valandhom?

What reminded me of this? I was browsing through the 'headlines' and found that the Mumbai's IPL team has been named 'Mumbai Indians'. appo mathavan ellam Nepal'kaarana?

Found this


In the match between India and Australia yesterday, there happened a fielding accident/incident involving Michael Clarke and Tendulkar. Basically, Clarke ran into Sachin and ended up dragging him down in the collision. Here's what Ravi Shastri had to say about it when they were showing it in the replay: "Clarke was going for the ball and ended up having something bigger in his hands". Just as he was saying that with a rather 'straight-faced tone', Clarke was seriously grappling with Sachin's buttocks in slow-motion. This is why cricket is worth watching with commentary on.

Ostracized solitude (in Tamil movies)

This podcast is a general commentary on how solitude/family life etc., have been dealt with in Tamil movies over the years. It threads itself loosely around the movie Pirivom Sandhippom's theme, but it's not a review of the movie. (Download mp3.)

Apology: I realized that I had used the filler "vandhuttu" excessively throughout the podcast. Excuse me for that.


It's one of the funniest movies in Tamil. Even as a kid I laughed so hard when I first saw the movie, probably around 1990. I found the movie online and started watching it again. Among a lot of new surprises from my first time viewing, I picked up some ridiculously funny expressions. It's not just the comic timing, but the use of language, acting etc from a historical perspective. The movie is over half century old, you can see that a lot of things have changed since then. But some of the 'changes' catch you off guard. One of the parts that totally cracked me up was this (In case you don't have the time to watch it yourself):

There are two Sabapathys: the young 'master' and his slightly older servant. The servant is a bit of crackpot -- a bit more than the 'master'. Sabapathy and his mother visit the 'would be' bride's place with the servant accompanying them. They reach the place and as they get down from the car they hear someone dancing upstairs (bharathnatiyam it would seem). At this point the exchange goes:

Servant: amma, edho thevudiya kacheri nadakudhu
mother: edho vishesham pola irukku, nalla sagunam dhan

The word thevudiya--which is now more than derogatory and often bleeped--is used again, rather casually, in another scene that follows immediately. If you want to watch just this part, click on this link and slide it to 35 minutes. You can watch the entire movie from here.

Aside: The link between the word thevudiya and bharathnatiyam may be understood from this interesting post on the movie Arangetram.


Based on some superficial research and a lot of painful experience, I want to say that maida and 'all purpose flour' are not the same. Maida has some minor percentage (I don't know exactly what %) of tapioca flour mixed in it, making it more elastic when made into a dough. Maida is also quite finer and whiter than 'all purpose flour'. Although the difference may seem insignificant, you'll feel the difference in the outcome of many dishes; especially when you try to make South-Indian style parottas. So all you cooking enthusiasts please start making this distinction in your recipes. Please don't continue with your dubious ingredients list and give others a hard time.

What prompted this post? The Patel guy who owns the Indian store where I buy my stuff, sold me a bag of 'all purpose flour' crudely labeled as maida. This is not the same pack I usually buy, so I ask if it's actually maida? He first argues that they are both the same. I almost refuse to buy this new bag because I get a strong feeling that, with the increase in wheat price and everything, they no longer export maida from India. And this guy just made his own little bags out of the regular 'all purpose flour'. Anyway, I bought it, got it home and got screwed up 'ceylon parottas'; disappointing my Sri Lankan friends and embarrassing myself.

PS. Both 'all purpose flour' and maida aren't the best food products for "healthy" eating.

Jodhaa Akbar

I tried to download the movie a day after its release and much to my annoyance it turned to be a fake torrent. Well, there was another movie in its place -- Super Star. I did, however, get the actual movie yesterday. After watching it, I so wished that the second download was a fake too.

The fact that this movie has been lauded as one of the greatest in recent times just shows the perversion in the mainstream consumption of mainstream art forms, especially movies[1]. It happened among Tamil cinema viewers in the last decade. When the dearth of 'good' movies and pseudo-critiques in TV created an illusion of differentiating the 'good' from the 'bad'. Of course, the need to put down the Other -- non-Tamil movies, especially Hindi -- effectively blurred the viewers possible 'objective' assessment of a movie further. Veyyil and Paruthi Veeran are lauded ubiquitously, almost (Paruthi Veeran is also "going places")[2].

I wonder if the same phenomenon has caught up with the Hindi movie viewers as well. The need to "have something on par with Hollywood". I'm not as surprised by a few "critics" on TV because they are known to be cronies of one faction or the other. After all, they need someone for their 'Grope a star' kind of shows. But the mainstream viewer's enthusiasm to suck up, in this context, is slightly disturbing. They are either gleefully buying into the false binaries created by the TV hosts (Hrithik can act, Sunil Shetty cannot. Aishwarya Rai looks like a feathered turkey, but she looks stunning etc.) or they are caught in some kind of self imposed binary. To choose between national pride, supposedly represented by this "great Indian movie", and being an American boot-licker.

The reason one likes this movie cannot probably oversimplified like above, but who cares? When one likes an oversimplication like Jodhaa Akbar, he/she better be prepared undergo the same treatment.

1. To quote from one of my previous posts: the perversion is not in the consumption per se, but how it's perceived. Ex: when a health expert appears on TV and starts explaining the benefits of consuming 500ml Pepsi everyday.
2. Read this interesting column by Sudhir Mishra


Dhoni is probably the worst batsman the Indian team has had in the last 5, 6 years. Whenever I talk about Sachin I say, "he brings in so much life and flavour to the game" at one point or the other. I think the opposite can be said about Dhoni. Everything becomes ugly and embarrassing. His unwieldy stroke-play, lack of technique -- ewww, this kind of cricket is probably fun to play; like in under-arm cricket at your 600x800 ft terrace, but it's so painful to watch. That's the way it has been since the day he stepped into the team (well, those days it was also his kuruvi koodu hair). But there was some hope that he'll be in and out, if not thrown out for good. No. What happened was the opposite -- he became the bloody captain. What's worse? Nobody in the media seemed to have a problem with that. Some even wanted him to be made the test captain. adhu seri.

A lot of people compare Afridi with Dhoni. There cannot be a bigger travesty. Afridi, as much as I hate him when he plays against India, is actually quite capable of playing decent cricket shots. This guy Dhoni, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the expressions "kaatan maadhiri", "kaatu adi" etc., (even that only when manages to send the ball to the boundary).

It's not so much his batting or the fact that he's been made the captain that irritates me, it's the unbelievable silence from the cricket commentators. Harsha came close to commenting on it, but chose to play it safe by asking Slater what the Australian cricketers thought about Dhoni's batting? The best that Slater could come up with was, "he's not the most orthodox player, but that's what is unique about him. The raw approach to the game." What?

Gavaskar to Shastri, none of them have a problem with the way he bats? Is this the big elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about? To top all this he has the nerve to assume self righteous authority when he talks. Who the hell said this moron is "humble"? "I could have a completed that run with my cramped leg"? Can you be a bigger asshole than this?

Disclaimer: some quotes may not be exact.

Found this

I spend no less than an hour on youtube, everyday. I thought I'll share this video here. These guys are awesome (of course, only if you like random humour).

The solution

I was running through a few comments for an article in a news website and an annoying exchange caught my attention for a brief moment. Because this is a common phenomenon, the site or the article is not really important. This is the pattern:
person 1: As long as we have blah blah blah, India will never improve (or something like that)
person 2: (in reply to person 1) It's easy to point fingers/criticize, but what's your solution?

I hate person 2, just as much as person 2 hates person 1. Maybe I hate person 2 a little more. As I've been asked this question several times and I've answered it a few times myself elsewhere, I'll mention it here. (It's often two stupid men, so let's go with that gender.) Why is he so obsessed with a solution? As if "solution" is the only problem. Except for a number of "purely" scientific questions, almost all other economic, political, sociological issues have been reasonably analyzed and 'answered' one way or the other. Only that the said answer, or "solution", if you will, would often exist as a moot point. So the "solution" is simply pushed aside and the queries are "analyzed" again with false teleologies; meanwhile funding certain brown men to upload cooking videos in youtube.

Applied, mutated versions of Marx's socialism to unapplied, much romanticized versions of anarcho-syndicalism, none of them can be a "solution" to anything. For the very notion of "solution" is inherently flawed, at least in the socio-political context. It can only exist and operate from within a continuum that transfigures the status-quo with respect to the new entry -- "solution" -- into the hitherto itself. And status-quo can't be anything but a problem, can it?

Anyway, you might want to ask, "so why is person 1 more agreeable than person 2?"
Well, person 1 is pissed off, and he wants to put his testosterone into an activity that will stop him from breaking his neighbor's wind pipe -- like, playing football, basketball or simply "whacking off" to porn (or "point fingers" in a blog). Person 2, wants to be the neighbor who wants to incriminate an innocent civilian to feed his masochism. Who would you rather?


In an NDTV 'debate', a student said "This is a democratic country, these politicians are trying to make it into a socialist country". I don't think he knows this: The preamble of the constitution defines India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic (wiki page).

"Equality" is a constitutional right in India (including reservations for 'backward' classes).

PS. Hindi is not India's 'national language'. It does not have one.

Bluetooth Users


India Vs. Australia - 3rd test; AUS' second innings. 253-8 to 326-9: haven't felt so irritated in a long time. It was such a horrible feeling; felt like giving ten tight slaps to Kumble and RP Singh.

ebook - Shantaram

I don't know anything about this book, but a friend has been asking me to read it for a long time. Apparently it's very popular. I found the PDF version online, I thought I'll share the link here: download page.


No, the WTF moment didn't happen because of the video itself. But because of series of insignificant events that transpired over the last 36 hours.

I get an invite from youtube user 'Kandibanbala' to view his new video (embedded above). I don't know Balaji so well. I have seen some of his videos before and left a few comments. I've had an impression that he's a professional editor/film-maker who has worked in ad films etc (just an assumption). I think he sent me the invite just because I've left some comments before. I don't see anything else to it.

So I go see the video and get a "hmmm!" feeling. Not too impressed, but I say "it's alright". Then I start thinking why the video didn't really appeal to me, for a couple of minutes. Then I leave the following comments. (Italicized parts are those that I had to delete because of character limit.)

Comment 1:
Good skills, but the freestyle tri-hop/house moves get a little monotonous after a while (I understand, there's only so much you can do on the streets). And I would have liked it better had there been lesser focus/emphasis on the abstract 'fusion' moves too. Are they supposed to convey something?

I like the "curious indifference" of the people in 56", 1'22", 2'2" 3'20" etc.

Comment 2:
Problematization: Although, probably, unintended, there's some exotification of the 'tilak' and the "classical" dance moves as done by a white man. Celebration of the "global culture" that has subsumed the white man in the brown wilderness; providing him with a "rich and colourful" background for his performance. Invariably evoking this feeling, "wow! Isn't it cool that a white man (wearing a tilak) is so elegantly(?) fusing hip-hop and classical dance moves in front of all these people? Cha sooper pa, pul arikudhu po!" - emanating from good old self-imposed orientalist condescension:
White man speaks Tamil - vaaaaah!
White woman learns kalari payattu - vaaaah!
White man loves "Indian food" - vaaaah! and more.
I might be reading too much into things, but what is a white man's "classical dancing" supposed to mean when "Chennai is on the move"?

Comment 3:
My second comment might rile a few/many viewers here who might say "dei romba peter udadha" or "dude, don't look at everything so negatively, learn to enjoy art" or some nonsense like that.

So here's the disclaimer: one probletamizes things so that the hidden layers embedded in an art form (or any representation) is/are better understood before it's consumed a certain way.
That the creator himself/herself may be unaware of what it represents is irrelevant because the product itself communicates independently.

Comment 4:
This video works mostly because of its editing and music. Good job on both areas. Thanks for the video.

--end of comments--

This was yesterday (Jan 8, 2008). I was quite critical because, as I said earlier, he seems like a pro (of course, the problematization would apply for an 'amateur's product as well). I check today to see if he had replied any of my comments. I stop for a moment to make sure that I've landed in the right page. Yes. I don't see any of my comments. All of them have been deleted. WTF? (yeah, this is the moment).
I thought, "if you cannot take my fucking comments, why fucking invite me?" (ok, that sounded a bit like Chimbu!)
But seriously, the comments, I think, aren't that disrespectful or snappish; a bit detractive, may be. So if he didn't want to reply, the least he could have done is tell me that he's going to remove the comments. At least I wouldn't have had to retype the whole thing (here). adhellam illa, mayiru he has just removed it. People, don't pull these kind of stunts. It's beyond annoying.
Now the page is squeaky clean: hours and hours of work 'appreciated' by a few as "nice job" etc. That's probably all he wanted to hear. Well, whatever.

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