Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Cycle

Ramesh was becoming restless. It was almost 4 15 pm and still his mother was preparing the food. “Amma, I will have extra milk before going to bed” he was pleading. “No kanna, only 5 more minutes”, she tried to convince. Ramesh knew that his chance of batting today was diminishing by the minute and he was helpless. He was 8 years old and was slowly realizing the benefit of not protesting too much. Just as he was about the start his shrilling screech, his mom emerged from the kitchen with hot bakodas and coffee. Without much fuss he ate and left the house in a jiff in his cycle.

Though he was very happy to have a cycle, it was an old one passed on from his brother.  He had always wanted his own new cycle. As he cycled ferociously to the cricket ground, all the boys were huddled around something. Ramesh fought through the crowd to see what had created the commotion. In the center, was a new beaming cycle! It had a smooth texture; the shine and the smell of new metal were weakening the minds of all the guys around. Next to it stood Rahul, with a glint in his eyes and a smile in which all the 28 teeth of his was visible. It was his second bike. The boys were trying out the new bell which bettered the sound of a Mozart’s symphony. Many were queuing up to ride the new bike.

 It was particularly painful for Ramesh. He had agreed to reuse most of his brother’s old stuff, but had always asked for a new cycle. It was a matter of pride as cycle racing was a big thing among the kids and when was asked to take his brothers cycle, he was quite disheartened. But seeing one of your rivals getting something you carved for was the tipping point. That whole evening Ramesh was so disappointed that he did not care when he neither got a chance to bat or bowl in a cricket match. His mind was completely clouded by the image of the new cycle. To add fuel to his disappointment, Rahul was having a field day, scoring runs left right and center, as well taking wonderful catches.

As soon as the match was over he went home like a Zombie. He hated the cycle he was riding on. When he reached home his eyes were filled with tears. He shoved the cycle in the garden and went into the home. Angrily he went to take bath without talking to his mom and dad who were sitting in the living room.  The tantrums started during the dinner. He was stubborn and told his mom he would not eat anything. His mom was pleading him to have something and then his dad would arrange something. But he was adamant that until he gets a new cycle he would not eat anything. His mom was losing patience. “See he is not listening to me. Do something,” complained the mother.

“Ramesh, what is your problem?” his father patiently asked him.

A sobbing Ramesh slowly told his father about the greatest injustice committed to him. He father tried to reason out why buying a new cycle was not a good idea. But his was reasoning into deaf ears. Even extensive cajoling did not work. Finally giving in to the tantrums of Ramesh his father finally agreed to get him a new cycle the next day, much to the bewilderment of Ramesh’s mother. Finally ramesh had his dinner and went to sleep still agitated.

The next morning his father took his old cycle to his garage repainted it. To make it more attractive he added a horn of a discarded automobile and kept it ready for Ramesh.

Ramesh returned from school and was simply excited to see a shinning cycle and was particularly excited to see the horn. Unsurprisingly that evening he was the center of attraction in the playground also. Both Ramesh and his father were happily that evening.  
       


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Kalam - A small tribute

APJ Abdul Kalam was, someone whom I always looked and will look upto. For most of us the Gen Y Indians, he is an idol for reasons many.  On 27th of July he died of a massive heart attack, in the most kalamest way possible, interacting with students of IIM Shillong. I am sure his words, deeds and vision will live forever.   Here is a walk down my memory lane about how he had influenced me over the years.
  1.   First time I remember hearing the name APJ Abdul Kalam, was when I was preparing for a quiz quiz competition during my 5th standard.
  2.  This was around the time pokran testing happened. The news during that time had Kalam in the spotlight. Here was a simple guy, at the center of a great acheivement, unlike the melodramatic Heros, I was used to in the films. And more importantly he was also talking in tamil.  
  3.   Here comes the first real wow moment from kalam. In our school, we used have this session reading articles from famous ppl, about philosophy etc. (Annayin mandhirangal or kdhavai thera katru varatum  or the sukhbodhanandha article etc). On the occasion of the childrens day, our Princi read this article from a Tamil Magazine (anandha vikatan I think). An Essay written by Kalam to the children, asking them to dream and think beyond the limits. The ease with which he connected with children was phenomenal.  Then started the admiration for his words both written as well as spoken, which has continued till date.
  4. During my 9th standard, I had applied for velamal talent search exam, The main reason being that the final prize was to be given by Kalam.  But fortunately by the time the prize distribution was on, he had a small swearing in ceremony to become the president of the country.
  5.   And as a president, he never disappointed. His speeches on the eves of Independence Day and republic day would fill me with optimism and hope.
  6.  The first disappointment from was soon to follow.   Eagerly I had started to read his book the “Wings of fire”. After a sensational start to the book in the first 2 chapters, what followed did not connect with me at all. What started as a stunning personal story tapered into a collection of facts. But the book had its merits. The ease with which he simplifies literal rocket science is remarkable. No wonder he is an exemplary teacher. One particular example that springs to mind, is how easily he and his team resverse engineered a soviet launch vehicle and he explains it as if it was as simple as fitting your bike!!! One thing have learnt in my dabbling with the academic and professional experience is that simplicity is the greatest complexity and he had mastered it.
  7.   Having missed a chance to see him in person during vellamal contest, my wish got fulfilled in 2007 when he came to NIT Trichy to chair the convocation ceremony. How lucky can be the 2007 passouts!! There were a few security guards, few hundred people and a large window between me and Kalam and still his speech was music to my ears. To the gathering of new graduates he talked about interlinking of rivers. He made a reference to a quote from patanjali muni which was quite inspiring,  (yes I copied from the internet)"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be." 
  8.        In 2010 he spoke for the Koodamkulam atomic power project. It requires guts to take a stand. If there is someone knowledgeable enough to take a stand it was him.


A portrait by my friend Supraja
There is big list of things I admire about him. It is indeed sad that he is physically no more with us. But his legacy will live with us for a long time to come. It is also our responsibility to make sure that this happens.  One of his regrets during his tenure as president was his inability to install solar panel at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan(Pls see the interview at Wharton) .  As a mark of respect, we should try to install solar panels in our homes. As he loved poems, I have written a poem as a tribute to him.

"you dream of the sky,
The limits set at infinity,
We saw the birds fly,
Through the eyes of this divinity.

You had that vision,
To see the Edens beyond the realm,
The science midst the mother nature,
And the unity midst the divided nations.

You were not tall, but seen by all,
You were not loud, but heard by all,
You were not muscular, but stronger than many,
You were the leader everyone wanted to be.

O teacher, My teacher,
We needed no class to be taught,
The words of wisdom,
Piercing the heart and the head straight.

The shinning jewel on mother India,
Adored with accolades from afar,
you wore multiple hats, of which I wish to borrow,
the hat of simplicity and Kindness."

Thank you my dear Teacher.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Greek Crowd funding – A story worth spreading.

Pic source : http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2015/06/greece-debt-crisis-greeks-refuse-to-pay-debt-calling-it-illegal-illegitimate-and-odious-3172184.html

At a time when reading a news website has become anything but pleasurable and inspiring, there is one story that is worth sharing and appreciating. This is the incredible story of a simple man starting a crowdfunding to bail out Greece. While the world leaders are busy trying to find a solution for this mess, there is this young brit who has started this crowd funding with an intention to actually do something about it.Till now there have been more than 98000 contributions in less than 6 days. Realistically speaking this will not collect the required 1.6 billion € that is required for Greece to pay back IMF and in another month or so have to pay the EU twice the amount. This by no means it the complete number. Greece owes well over 250 bln €.  People have different opinions about this crowd funding, ranging from being highly supportive to be completely ridicule the idea. I personally support this as this represents basic human courtesy. But before one can make up his/her mind about being supportive or being against crowd funding/bailout it is important to understand the complete picture of the crisis. And tomorrow is an all important day as Greece vote on the referendum.

Disclaimer : This is just my understanding of the whole situation. If there are some figures, you will get the reference for that. And the final conclusion is just my opinion.   

What is this crowd funding for?
Crowd funding is raising money through anonymous donations for a particular cause. The Greek crisis has almost reached tipping point which could begin the end of European union. Here the cause is to make sure, Greece can pay a part of their debt (1 %)

What will happen if they don’t pay ?

·           Just like a defaulter, Greece would have to say to the creditors ( ppl who lent the money like IMF) sorry dude, we cant!!
·         Greece cannot use euro anymore.
·         Greece should choose a currency of its own and start minting money(Just to create a source). This would mean that currency has little value.
·         Greece would start from zero, just like a newly formed independent country.

What led to this mess?
There are many reasons why Greece is in this mess.
·         ·           Right from the time when Greece joined the EU, back in 2000, it had a huge debt. As the concept of EU was built on a no inflation policy, meaning only way a country can get fresh capital is by taking credit. All was good till 2008 crisis when there were enough finances, giving Greece ample scope to borrow.
·          The problem was also, that Greece had borrowed much more than what they could pay back and their asset value tanked almost overnight.
·         Add to this mess corruption, bad policy, lack of natural resources and a weak industrial base, it is the perfect recipe for disaster.
·         As much as politicians were corrupt, well educated professionals were no different. Just read this article (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/09/greece-tax-evasion-professional-classes). These professionals had evaded tax to the magnitude of 30 bn €/year.

How did Europe Respond?
Eurozone countries and international banks gave Greece lots of money to save her, with the condition that Greece will buck up. Some criteria include deep budget cuts and raising taxes.  Here is a list of austerity measures (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-13940431). Greece cut budgets, and increase taxes. Citizens protested against it because nobody likes to pay more taxes. The 'bailout' money was mostly spent on repaying her debts, and it was not enough to revive the economy. Only 10% was used in reviving economy. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/29/where-did-the-greek-bailout-money-go)

What is it for Europe?
In Greece simply put, there are very few people working to pay for a large number of people who are either retired (a retirement age of 55!!, while in Netherlands it is 67) or unemployed. Simply put at the grass root level people not very happy about their governments paying up for Greece. But on the other side,the "Euro" reputation will be tarnished because investors just lost lots of money with Greece walking away. Investors will be deterred from investing into any countries that carry Euros, and it is bad for economic growth. This impact will ripple through the world economy.
Other than the monetary issue the whole concept of European Union is under threat. The whole concept was based on regional cooperation. A good example is Indian Union of states. India is country of 29 states with a strong federal government, distributing the wealth from rich states to poor states. While Europe has nonexistent federal government, it was started plainly put based on mutual trust and coorperation. Here is the first sign of this going south!!

So why do I Support this crowd funding?
Inspite of the fact that there is no way a crowd funding can help solve the problem, its about symbolism. If I were a greek, I would be so happy that there are about 100,000 unknown individuals who want to help the people of Greece as are willing to fund and want to do something to improve the condition. There have been examples in the past, Germany 1950s, US 1930, India 1991 all these countries came out of deep shit. India is great example because, inspite of corruption it managed to come of an economic crisis.  And this crowdfunding is an amazing show of solidarity for the people of Greece.  Here is a realistic, but though provoking interview from the guy who started this, (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/01/greek-bailout-crowdfund-politicians-euros-people)
Inspite of the inherent flaws, I support this crowd funding. I want interested people to make a contribution. We humans are not perfect and this is like a group of flawed people trying to help another group of flawed people to make a flawed system tick.



Saturday, May 23, 2015

The accident

The mornings to the office are always conjusted. People have no time, be it on the car, motor bike, public transport or on foot, the mode of transport is immaterial. The suited guy uneasily trying to maneuver his BMW or the impatient school kid who does believe that his cycle has an infinite power to evade traffic; these scenes are trivial to a seasoned traveler like Ramesh, who resonates the very pulse this everyday traffic. What frustrated him to the core at the beginning, became a part of his morning routine. Ever since he bought his Skoda Rapid, he had shut himself from the outside world, enjoying the solitude of the music on his way to work. The construction for the metros, the pavement encroachments, the ad banners that supplement the shades and coolers, the non existent traffic symbols, the road dividers that are as big as the road itself, all add to the canopy of the morning traffic.

Few minutes into his journey, that started like any other day, Ramesh saw a small agitated group at a cornor that was unusual for the location. Curiosity got the better of him. He slowed his vehicle, parking it along the road and got out to find out the reason behind this untimely commotion. As he got out there was a person shouting, “Just called the ambulance, they should be here within 15 minutes”. There was another calling, “ There has been a bad impact on the head. Its important that he is taken to the hospital as soon as possible.” Only then Ramesh realized the gravity of the situation. There was a young boy lying on the lap of a middle aged lady. She was sobbing, holding the bleeding head and trying to stop the blood with her red saree. With the moist throat, she blurted out, “ There is the General Hospital near by. Can some one please get an auto. I don’t want to wait for the ambulance.”

Seeing the plight of the woman, Ramesh involuntarily responded, “you can use my car. Guys can you please lift him up carefully?” Three men from crowd, quickly heeded to his request and along with Ramesh picked the boy up. She was holding the wound on the side of the head tight. There were tears seeping out of her eyes continuously. They carefully moved him to the back of the car seat. She sat next to him. One of the other guys called up the hospital and told that the boy is on his way and asked to keep everything ready for their arrival.

“Do any of us need to come with you?” asked one of the guys who had help in lifting the boy.  “No thank you. I think I can manage”, she replied. “I have my two wheeler on the roadside, can you pls park it some place safe”? He quickly ran and puched the two wheeler to the side and locked it instantly and threw the keys to Ramesh, who had already kept the ignition ready. He kept the keys in his glove compartment and slowly started the car.
“It will take only 5 minutes” he assured her. But her eyes were fixed on the bleeding boy. He was mumbling something and was losing conscience. Now and then he opened his eyes and that was encouraging. Ramesh in spite of being ignorant in most of the things related to medical profession, quickly checked if there was blood coming from his ears. Thankfully it was not. Looking at her, he got reminded of his mother from his younger days. He could see the pain in her eyes. He now had only one task and that was to reach the hospital as soon as he can.

The traffic thankfully was not that bad. Still he had his hand fully on the horn and maneuvered the crowd expertly. As planned there was a nurse waiting outside in front of the hospital and she along with a few others helped in lifting the boy, transferred him to a stretcher and quickly went inside.  She was following them and was stopped at a point. The boy was rushed into the emergency unit.

Ramesh still lingered around wanting to know the diagnosis. A nurse came out running and told the lady standing just outside the door, “We need to quickly check for clots in the head. If there are no clots, it should not be a problem. But before we can proceed further, we want a kin of his to sign this document. Can you please sign for your son?” and she extended a paper on a pad to her.

“Just make sure he is all right.”

She quickly signed the papers and turned around saw Ramesh waiting there. Ramesh wanted to say something to comfort her and give her encouragement that her son will be fine. She came near Ramesh and started searching her shoulder bag.

“Thank you very much for the help. Can you do me another favour also?”

“Ofcourse, pls tell me.”

“My hands are bloody, can please take this phone out of this bag? It’s the boys phone and can you pls call his parents as soon as possible?”

Inspired by the Tamil idiom “petraal than pillayaa!” English translation is difficult. It exactly means a question “A son only if born out of a womb?” Dedicated to all the mothers out there.
P.S if there is some medical BS in this pls ignore.


      

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Judgement

Ramesh was sitting in the balcony, reading the Sunday Times. A retired school teacher, he filled his time with the morning walk, temples,  the newspaper and an occasional visit to the market. Hourly tea-breaks and the spice of his wife’s regular rants made his day. His wife, Saranya despised Sundays as most of the time he was glued either to the newspaper or the television.

Just then, Vikram, Ramesh's son walked in, “Good morning Dad! What news?”

“Oh! The usual run-of-the-mill stories of scams and politics,” replied Ramesh casually as he pointed at the paper.

Vikram, in his early thirties was a highly opinionated man with strong work ethics, worked as a Manager in a reputed firm. Busy throughout the week with meetings and target deadlines, he made it a point to keep his Sundays free of the official clutter, so he could spend time with his family. Vikram grinned at his Dad’s casual comment and settled down on a chair. Suddenly they could hear loud voices. They looked at each other. Putting a hand over his forehead, “Damn! It’s no different here either. The usual grind over petty issues,” lamented Vikram.

“A dash of homemade made baji with national news,” smirked Ramesh.

“How can you be so cool?"

“Will losing my temper fetch me any peace of mind? It’s a blame-game; a time-pass, nothing more than crossword puzzle is to me. By the way did you have your morning tea?” asked Ramesh.

He persuaded his son to get some tea for himself, to lighten his spirits. But Vikram refused to step into the house, as he thought the volcano had erupted and feared that the lava was spread throughout. Finally, Ramesh decided to get a cup of tea for his son and a second cup for himself. He  didn’t bother the volcano as long as he got to gulp the steaming, hot liquid.

Vikram sighed and thought, ‘Hat’s off to Dad’s patience, a go-getter, I can never be like him.’
**
Sunday evening, at the beach.

Vikram and Namratha, his wife, enjoyed the crisp, cool breeze that caressed their cheeks and tickled their senses. They walked along the length of the beach, kicked sand and let the surf wet their feet. They shared a plate of hot molaga baji and munched on hot roasted peanuts. They made their way to a lone bench, where there was little noise, except for the waves hitting the sand front.

He had been married just a year ago to Namratha, a bubbly, carefree corporate girl. She was candid and outspoken in her views. A novice in home-making, she had regular confronts with her rather forgetful  mother-in-law, Sarnaya. She was still learning to manage her full time job with her house hold chores.

“You know what happened in the morning,” spoke Namratha coinciding with a large wave that hit their knees.

She didn’t wait for him to answer and blurted out, “Last night the milk had to be heated and set for curd, which usually your mom does. She forgot and left the milk out. Today morning, it got spoiled and two liters of milk got wasted. She holds me responsible for her forgetfulness. I work through out the week and its only in the weekend i can have some peaceful time.”

“If she forgot, you could have either reminded her or it’s a simple task which you could have done,” added Vikram.

“I dare not interfere in her work, she complains about everything. It doesn’t matter, whatever I do, she just has to argue. You know it’s a daily charade,” complained an irritated Namratha.

“You always take the side of your mom, no matter what she does. It looks like you don’t care for me.”

Vikram tried to pacify her, “It’s just that I was trying to make things easier for you.”
‘How could he take any one side? Both of them are dear to him, but they behave like two parallel roads which never meet. He is in a ‘Catch-22’ situation, which they will never understand. It is he who is most hurt in their squabbles.

**

Monday morning.

As he left the house for his office, when the cost was clear.
Vikram was busy throughout the day. At about seven in the evening, he got a call. For a moment he was in shock, he left office immediately.
**


To his chagrin, the heavy traffic tested his nerves. He yelled at the driver to drive fast. Anger and anxiousness brewed within, he ran to the reception, as soon as he reached the ‘Lifeline Hospital’. Namratha waited for him. He looked at her with pain in his eyes, ‘How’s he?’

“He is out of danger, still in the ICU. They have done a procedure called Coronary Ansgioplasty to remove the blocks in his arteries. Now he is under sedation. You can go in and have a look,” explained Namratha.

Vikram went in to see his dad.  Ramesh was sleeping peacefully; he was surrounded by wires and digital meters which monitored his condition constantly. The duty doctor assured him that his dad would be fine in a couple of days. 

As soon as he came out, his eyes searched for his mom. She sat in one corner of the waiting lounge with Namratha, who was holding his mother’s hand, an oddity. He sat beside them, “What happened, Mom?”

With tears in her eyes, “He had pain in his chest since two days, but he didn’t tell us. He was watching TV, and was drinking his tea. Namratha had just returned from office. He babbled something, the tea cup fell from his hand and he held his chest. Thank god, Namratha was quick enough to summon a taxi and bring him here. The doctors told us ‘more delay would have been fatal’. She was the one who had been handling everything since we brought him in. If it wouldn’t have been for her, I would have been helpless,” said his mom

“Why didn’t you ring me up?” demanded Vikram looking at Namratha.

“We did, but the network was not reachable. We obviously couldn’t have waited for you,” shot back his mother defending Namratha.

‘True,’ he had been at the site today, where signals waver. It was strange that his mother was all praises for Namratha, a volte-face. The way they spoke and comforted each other was new to him. A defiant Namratha was now the caregiver. They had proven him wrong. He was privy to their innate qualities of love and care, especially in need. 
**

The next weekend, his dad was discharged from the hospital with a list of do’s and don’ts. Namratha took charge and both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law worked in tandem.
His dad looked at him, meaning to say, ‘Didn’t I say?’ Yes, a blame-game of sorts that did no harm.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

K Balachander - The Director who revolutionized tamil cinema






K B - A small Tribute (Image source - https://www.tumblr.com/search/k.+balachander)
What influences the thought process of a growing child? In the late 90s in addition to the parents and teachers, there was another medium that more than influenced the growing child! It was 'the television'. For a child growing in a middle class family in Tamil Nadu, the television everyday had atleast a film or a TV serial either written, directed or produced by K Balachander or simply known as KB. So when one returns from the school, it would be Bhama vijayam running in classic matnee, A roja on Republic day / Independence day or watch Marma Desam on Thursdays, Kasalavu Nesam on Wednesdays, Premi or Kailavu Manasu. This, my readers is 'the influence'. Watch this bit where Crazy mohan talks about KB in a recent Coffee with DD episode. Cant put things better!!

 He was, probably, one of the few directors who worked on themes which had strong connection with the day to day life of the common man. The result was that most of his films have gone well with the masses. He made films on subjects to satisfy his own ego unmindful of its success commercially.KB changed the content, context and the actors in the Tamil Film Industry and infused a new breath of life into the movies. He also started the revolution of serials in the small screen. Not many people, had directorial success in both small screen and silver screen. His characters portrayed the nuances of middle class predicament perfectly.  Sadly, he is no more. It is indeed a pleasure for me to write about him, a celebration of the cinematic journey of a simple man, from humble origins, achieving monumental success. 
He never lost in touch with contemporary film making! "He is in conversation with Amir after his Dhobi Ghat"

Jonathan Swift once said, "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Going by that definition, KB would mean visionary in every thesaurus. Let me give an example. Having been KBed into comedy in Thillu mullu Tamil Cinema, Rajni kanth added comedy to his repertoire, which truely made him connect to the masses.  Even Rajni, on the back of successes like Muratu kalai and Billa was not sure of taking up a full time comic role. The way he shaped the career of Kamal Hasan requires a separate post in itself. Its not just Rajni and Kamal, the list of people who got their breaks because of KB is a long one!! Special mention must go to 2 people - Major Sundararajan and Nageesh, the 2 character artists who got to explore and experiment without any problem in his films.

In between KB has won Nine National Awards  and innumerable State government and Filmfare awards, for his films, which he made not only in Tamil but also in other languages such as Telugu(Maro Charitra, Aakali Rajyam, Andhuleni Katha) , Kannada( Benkiyalli Aralidha Hoovu),Malayalam and Hindi ( the iconic Ek Duuje Ke Liye). 

Lets talk about favorites!! Let me list out my favorite movies and serials Chonologically!! I am  going to limit myself to 10!!

1. Server Sundaram

A movie written by BB about how a server( Nagesh ) from being a waiter turns into an actor and excels in his life. Some classic comedy scenes in this movie include Audition Scene, Acting Scene with Manorama. The movie ends on a rather tragic note, a constant feature of his earlier movies!

2. Bama Vijayam 

A refreshing satire on the middle class mind set, with uniformly good performance by all the lead as well as supporting actors. Each and every role is to be cherished in the film and this legendary song!!
3. Avargal
Arguably the best story written by KB. Excellent performances from Sujatha, Rajinikanth and Kamalhaasan. The movie portrays the emotional struggle of Anu (Sujatha) with 3 men in her life. Kamal is also said to have learnt the art of ventriloquism to portray his character perfectly. The movie keeps you guessing right till the very end and every guess you make ends up being wrong ! Along with Aval Apadithan, this movie portrays the acting brilliance of Rajni Kant. He outperforms Kamal and even overshadows him in almost every scene.

4.Thaneer Thanner
A movie about deprivation, greed and corruption. Also subtly mocks the system in failing to protect the weak!!  Arguably one of the best female performances in Tamil cinema by Saritha. There was a copy of this movie in my college local LAN. For writing this post, I wanted to watch it again, but could not find a copy!! If some one has one, pls do share!!

5. Thilli mullu

Along with Bhama Vijayam the best comedy directed by KB!! I need not write anything, just watch this scene.

6. Varumain Niram sivappu.

KB, the director of this flick has delved deep into the problem of unemployment in the 80's period of India. Easily one of Kamal best in the early 80s late 70s. The license restrictions made unemployment further higher in the country and this story deals with a well-educated youth who is extensively ideal and does not lose his morality for mere survival. A period I have not seen, but heard stories from my dad.  There are some melodrama and cliches, but the movie ends on the right note. Pratap potan in another awesome sadist kind of a role!! Thengai Sreenivasan appears for a few incredibly funny minutes, proving that there are no small roles -- only small actors.

7. Achamillai Achamillai

Personally the least favorite of the 10. But I am including this in the list just because of Sarita. Hands down a national award winning performance. It is a moralistic tale of how politics and power can corrupt the best of men. To be honest, the latter part of the movie is a bit cliched but the first half an hour is very absorbing. Sarita, Rajesh and Delhi Ganesh throw in wonderful performances, and VS Narasimhan's melodies remain fresh even today.

8. Puthu Puthu Arthangal

A brilliant tale of search for companionship. The definition of companionship is put to true test in this movie. In the conservative India, not many directors have tested post marriage affair as beautifully as done in this movie. This film features, one of the most brilliantly written on-screen couple, Sowkar Janaki and Poornam vishwanathan!! Add to mix some soul crunching melodies from Raja, this is easily one the most underrated KB films.

9. Jathi Malli

During the time when the caste and religious clashes were reaching their peak, KB came up with a movie that hit the bulls eye in this issue.  

10. Vaname Ellai

 My favorite KB movie - the last of the master pieces directed by him. Its the story of a group of 5 youngsters, frustrated by the filth around them, decide to commit suicide in 100 days. But they want to spend the last 100 days to the fullest. It was kind of a first time in tamil cinema,  the 5 protagonists, 3 men and 2 women live together without any romance brewing in between.  Even if released today it will not be out of place/space. KB has always been a "dheergadarsi". This movie subtly passes on the message of hope. I would watch it over again and again and definitely one of the path breaking movies of Tamil Cinema. Sadly this movie was overshadowed by a couple of other movies released around the same time. "Anamalai and Roja". And oddly all the three movies were produced by KB. 

There are many more movies, that did not make it to my list. I have watched almost all the tamil movies KB has been associated with, and definitely leaving out movies like Manmatha leelai, 3 mudhichu, Unnal mudiyum tambi, poova thalaya has been pretty difficult. 


KB would be definitely living as long as Tamil cinema exists. But how can I finish writing a tribute without this photo??? Hats off Mr. KB!! Its also an honour for me to write my 100th post as a tribute to KB :).

KB with two of his favorite prodigies!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mid Life Crisis



He was happily sleeping while his mobile phone kept on ringing. Having been adequately trained over the years in snoozing alarms, sleeping through a ringing phone was a cake walk for him.  But same thing cannot be said of his wife. Grumbling she picked up the phone and answered it, half seeing who caller was.

“Hi Albert, good morning. Ramesh is still sleeping.”

“Hi Sudha , this is Stella.”  Sudha was surprised to hear Albert’s wife’s voice. Worryingly she sounded agitated.

“Yes, Stella. Is everything alright?”

“Albert had a massive heart attack this morning. We have moved him to the General Hospital. Can you pls come here?”

“Ofcourse Stella. I will be there in 30 minutes with Ramesh. Dont worry. Nothing will happen to Albert. “

“I am trying to be calm. But Joseph also did not pick up. He had slept in the hostel with his friends. They have just taken Albert to the ICU.”

“No issues at all. Do you have enough cash with you?”

“I think so. I have just brought all the cards with me as of now.”

“Dont worry . Ramesh will take care of the Finance.”

Ramesh and Albert have been business partners for over 20 years and have known each other from their school days. Ramesh was hardly a deep sleeper, always a grumpy riser from the bed in the morning.  

Grumpy Ramesh was shocked when he heard about the news.
“Albert is one of the fittest guys I have ever known. How could this happen to him! We are only 48 years old.”

Albert regularly worked out. He successfully avoided having the middle age bumps. He had a healthy life style and was always in control of his health. He looked at least 5-10 years younger than his age.
Visibly shocked Sudha and Ramesh left for the hospital immediately. They were received by a rather nervous looking Stella. Their arrival calmed down Stella a bit. Sudha started to console Stella and sat with her outside the ICU. There were several other grieving families near by. Sudha hated the aroma associated with hospitals. The only time she enjoyed this smell was when her daughter was born. In the recent times luckily neither she nor Ramesh had to stay overnight in a hospital.

  There was some frantic action in and out of the ward, with several medical staff entering the room. Ramesh tried to enquire about the progress to the fleet footed nurses and doctors without any success. After a 6 hour wait, the doctors came out with some good news. They explained for a few minutes in medical jargons that they could only understand, the gist of which meant that Albert is no more critical.  There was relief all around. After about 8 hours, Albert was in a state to see everyone.  Ramesh and Sudha finally left the hospital.

“We have to come here again tomorrow” said a concerned Ramesh to Sudha.

“Yes. I will cook something for Joseph and stella. The hospital food is not upto the mark.”

“Yes thats there. But I have booked a complete medical check up for both of us in the afternoon.”
Sudha was intrigued.  

 “It’s true that we have been trying to improve our dietary habits, but don’t you think you are over reacting to Albert’s situation?”

“Are you kidding!  Albert was the best of the lot. Look at me, my tummy. God only knows what my cholesterol level is. There must be a start. You have also been constantly gaining weight, ever since Lakshmi was born. We don’t take our health seriously.  Albert’s healthy life style must have saved him today. If we get a cardiac arrest, I am not sure if we would survive that.”

“Dont talk inauspicious things.”

“I am just being pragmatic.”

The general check up turned out to be scarier than expected. While both of them were in the overweight category, they also had Hyper tension, near high blood sugar level. Sudha had weak cartilages in her knees and Ramesh had high Cholesterol levels. They also had other minor issues. In short, their health was in a mess. Their medical report was a rude wake up call.

Within two days, it was Ramesh who reacted first. “I have got us membership in ABC fitness center. They have aerobics and power Yoga also. Its 3 kms from here. Daily morning we can cycle there. I have ordered 2 bicycles also.”

 I have been browsing the internet for some healthy diet tips. I found this GM weight loss diet plan. It’s assured 5-6 kg weight loss in a week. Its mainly fruit and veggie based. Absolutely no rice at all. Starting from tomorrow let us try that.”

Thus began their quest of finding that perfect health. The first day they woke up at 5 in the morning and cycled to the gym. 1 hour of moderate workout was exhausting but, they enjoyed every bit of it. After that started the GM diet routine.  First  day was fine. But as they entered the 3rd day, the lack of food and physical exhaustion was taking its toll on them. They were getting easily irritated and started taking out the frustration from lack of food on each other.

It was the 4th day morning. The fight the previous night was plain bad and they were not in talking terms with each other. They got dressed for the gym and left silently in the car. Ramesh was driving and there was no eye contact at all between them. He stopped at the local restaurant.

“2 plates sambar vadai and 2 ghee masala dosas pls”.