Category Archives: Review

One Line Review: Kathakali


Kathakali = Polladhavan + Thadaiyara Thaaka

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Day 8: Why I’m Excited About: Iraivi


Karthik Subbaraj had become my favorite director even before he had directed his first feature. His short films have had a cult following, ever since he made them for the ‘Naalaya Iyakkunar’ contest in Kalaignar TV. In fact, I was so impressed by his ‘Thuru‘, that I rewrote the short film as a short story in English – ‘A Trunkload of Love‘. I had said then, that this guy was going to redefine Tamil cinema, if given a chance… And then, he did…

His Pizza was a brilliant con film, disguised as an average horror flick. His Jigarthanda was a great comedy film, disguised as a brilliant gangster flick. And that is why, I had no idea what to expect from his next – Iraivi.

Ever since the teaser premiered with Santosh Narayan in top notch form in the background, my expectations have quadrupled. I do not want to speculate on the plot as I know the movie will surprise me no matter what I think. But with Vijay Sethupathi, SJ Suryah and Bobby Simha in the capable hands of Karthik Subbaraj, I expect no less than magic.

 

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Filed under Project 365, Review, Trailer, Why I'm Excited About

Critically Yours !


Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 3 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging event in the history of blogging world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

 

Yes Dear I’ll start in next half hour or so. I’m in a small interview. No they are interviewing me. Honest. I swear Dear. Err… Listen I’ll call you back. Half hour max. Text me the address. I will… Listen… OK gotta go honey… Bye… Bye bye…
 

Err… Eh he he, sorry dude. That was the Missus. Have some family function to attend tonight. Some distant relative of her is opening some store somewhere. You know how crazy these things are, don’t you? Alright, let’s get down to business. I’m still not sure if you are serious Sudhi. Hey before that, Coffee? These guys serve the best coffee in town. Take my word for it. 😉 Excuse me, two coffees please? Thank you.

Alright, so let me get this straight. You want my story for a Blogging Competition? You’re kidding me right? Did Sasi put you on to this? And did he tell you everything about me? Everything? Even the beach house… Oh boy, that guy is so dead the next time I see him. Anyways let’s get started then…

It all started when Yours Truly came into this world naked and crying. Mom used to say how much of a commotion I would create. I’d keep wailing every time someone would come near me. But strangely, I would fall quiet, and even hint a smile, when placed with other girl babies or when that good looking nurse would lift me to change my diapers. I had an eye for spotting the good stuff, my dad used to say, and more importantly the talent to find faults, which is why perhaps; I would cry the loudest when that plump, old, matron was on diaper duty. 😉 Karthik… Karthik Rajan was what they named me. Fault finding was in my blood. 🙂

It was in my childhood is when I realized that I had this sinister knack of calling a spade, a spade. Fortunately that’s an age when the children don’t really mind if you are frank and honest. Unfortunately, their grown up parents do. Once I told Raju’s father that he looked like a big water tank on a lorry, when he drove his scooter. Another day I told Subha Aunty that she did not look like Deepa’s Mom at all. She was pleasantly surprised, expecting perhaps that I’d say she looked like her elder sister. I said she looked like her Granny. Hell broke lose, angry stares were exchanged, my little ears were promptly pulled, and other kids were told to stay away from me and my ‘bad influence’. Countless sermons on how I should talk to adults were administered to me by the entire neighborhood. Oh yeah, I was the little devil with a big mouth.

College wasn’t too different either. In college I would flatly tell the lecturers when they really made no sense and hence was quite popular with the rest of the class. This popularity did not extend to the HOD though, in whose office I spent a good deal of my time, helping him give his hoarse and guttural vocal chords some exercise. I was also quite famous for my Hot List 10. That was a weekly top 10 list of good looking girls of the college. I was the only guy who could do the fairest assessment of the maidens of my college. I was also perhaps the only guy to have been slapped by the most women of the college. On one such assessment, I rated an absolutely gorgeous looking girl as number one right on the day she entered college. Everyone seemed to agree, but there were only two miniscule problems. Turns out, she was the newly recruited lecturer for Advanced Mathematics for the first year students, and she also happened to be a relative of the Principal’s. I never saw her after that day; or anyone else from that college for that matter. I was politely asked to leave, but there was nothing polite about the manner in which Dad reacted to that. Years passed, Colleges changed, but I didn’t.

I was a good student in college. Maybe that’s why I never used any of the skills learnt there in my many jobs. I started my career as a Software Tester in a small IT company. My job was to find where they had screwed up during coding, which they politely called defects. And they didn’t call me Mr. Defect Google for nothing. I had some fun initially, but soon it became way too boring. One day when I openly panned a module calling it the worst piece of programming ever. Turned out, the Manager had coded it. He said nothing, but his stare seemed to say everything. IT wasn’t cut out for me, but I really had no other skill or no other source of income to afford losing this job. Hence, I toned myself down and hung in.

I had always wanted to be a reviewer. In fact, every one of us tries to be one at some point of time. When elections happen, when India loses a big cricket match, when budgets are announced, or even when a new family with a good looking girl moves into the neighborhood, the hardcore reviewer in each of us surfaces. But I wanted to make a career out of it. “When you are good at something, never do it for free” a wise man once said. But a reviewer of what, I did not know. I had always loved books, so I started blogging my reviews of them. It wasn’t a huge hit, and there was no moneyin it. But it was liberating. Tearing a book apart in a review, gave me a high like nothing else. A friend of mine recommended me to a local book store and they hired me to do reviews of some books and put that up in their website, hoping to perk their business up. I relished the opportunity. I decided to concentrate on new Authors, because they were a safe bet. The first few books I read were really good. Swaroop, Aarthi S, Pradeep Prasanna and some other guys were truly good. But the rest of them were stale and very clichéd. And I minced no words when writing about them. I was beginning to get noticed. Well perhaps a tad too well noticed, as I found just a few weeks later. Apparently, my reviews were so effective that people stopped buying the books I had reviewed badly. And it was a good number that fell into that category. The book store began to notice that and the owners began pulling their hair out. They told me that I had excellent skills as a reviewer. So much so that I could even make the Bible go out of sales if I ever reviewed it. It sure did prove my power as a critic, but sadly it also cost me that job. I later realized that reviewing books was not for me.

I can review absolutely anything on the planet. From cigarettes to ‘after smoke’ mints, the best watering holes in the city, the most happening place in town to do a bit of, err bird watching, the best joints to hangout with friends without spending any money, to even the people who will lend you money when finances are a bit dry. I’m not too much of a sports guy though, but thankfully, this country of ours isn’t short of critics in that department. I once tried reviewing a politician when he was giving a speech near the bus stand, but I decided to not do that anymore after his crazy follower threatened me at knife point that day.

But one thing I’ve enjoyed doing more over the other things I do, is reviewing and tearing movies apart. After having spent a decent amount of money and a few hours of my time, if a movie doesn’t live up to my expectations, I find nirvana, in tearing it up like there is no tomorrow. Having seen the critic in me from boyhood, Sasi gave me a chance to put my reviews up in his website that was quite popular among his friends. I became instantly popular. Some movie websites would call for reviews from the public, and I would invariably have the reviews of all the movies releasing on Friday, penned and sent on the same day. Slowly, one of the leading movie review portals of the country, FlickBox, offered me a full time role as their in-house movie critic. I gave up my software job, and began to watch movies for a living. 😉 I was loving it.

My reviews were usually cut-throat and spared no one. I was blessed to have employers who believed in being equally forthright. One day there was this over hyped period flick which was releasing to huge expectations. It was made by this new, rich producer, who spared absolutely no expense in promotions for the movie. I hated it to the core. I hated it so much, that I could not even sit till the interval during the preview show. I started typing out the review on my mobile and by the time I reached home, I had my review ready to be sent out to be published. We were the first web site carrying the review of the film. “A Guide On How Not to Make a Film – A Review by Karthik Rajan – A FlickBox Exclusive”. It was a hit. And that was unfortunately, a problem.

A couple of extra strongly worded lines, in my equally strongly worded review of the movie read – “I imagine the Producer of the movie must be one of those rich, plump, dumb, dhoti-clad, business man from a remote village, who has so much money lying at his palatial bungalow, that he does not know what to do with it. After having decked himself in gold, and buying himself some well built, 8 pack endowed, henchmen to move around him, this movie must be his way of challenging the other wealthy, show-offs out there, that he has some mighty big, gold plated balls to make the biggest flop that this country has ever seen.” Turns out I was absolutely right in every respect. (Except perhaps the gold plated balls, which was only a figure of speech, you see) But I had missed one small yet crucial point. The Producer Govardhan Sachidanandham, was also an MLA from the nearby district.

And thus, in true filmy style, I was kidnapped from the parking lot of my office, my face covered with a black cloth, and delivered to the beach house of the MLA. The table with a single bulb hanging from top, the gag on my mouth, the goons brandishing knives, sickles and other sharp objects the size of my leg, looked straight out of a movie torture scene. The lighting could have been scarier, but then, I was not exactly in a position to point that out. Even the MLA standing before me, looked every bit a menacing villain, I’d seen in Bollywood movies. I nearly felt that it was ‘The End’ of my story, when my past came back to save my life. Aarthi, the girl from my college, whom I had never rated above 5 in my Hot List 10 in college, and whom I had once given a big lecture about creative writing and why her writings sucked, happened to be his only daughter. She noticed me being brought in and spoke to her father about me, who I was, and how much I was responsible for her success as a writer. Oh yes, Aarthi S was now an emerging author and was even reviewed favorably by me when I was doing book reviews. She was the angel of the Sachidanandham family. In the huge family of business magnates, she was the only spark of creativity, and the entire family loved her for that. Soon the hanging bulb was replaced by chandeliers, the henchmen replaced with family members, and the gag in my mouth was replaced by laddoos. This was one crazy family. Aarthi’s dad’s ‘loving’ thump on my back had me confused if I was still being tortured. But I was alive, and I had only Aarthi to thank for it. I smiled at her with gratitude in my eyes, and she acknowledged it with a simple smile back. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now Aarthi and I, we weren’t exactly made for each other. Aarthi Sachidanandham was a girl who was fed on fairy tales and stories of brave, young princes fighting for love and slaying dragons. Sadly, all I’d ever ‘slayed’ were a few mosquitoes with that ‘Made in China’ mosquito zapper bat. And I wasn’t even good at that. She was the most diplomatic, and the most politically correct person, I had ever seen in my life, while I could not even spell diplomacy. However, she would tell me that she was in love with my no-nonsense attitude, and the frankness in my mind. She admired my honesty and outspokenness, and my lack of thinking about consequences. Oh, the things that love does to a person. This was what I’d call being blindly in love. But trust me, Aarthi is a wonderful girl.

I had once remarked to her, on the day that she had saved my life, that I would be indebted to her forever. I told herthat I wouldn’t mind to be her slave for eternity if she wished. I guess she took it rather seriously and proposed marriage one day. Now I sure did love Aarthi, but was in no hurry to get married. But, having seen her father from quite close quarters earlier and the love he had for his daughter, I had now understood when to open my mouth and when to simply nod. And soon enough, the same Govardhan Sachidanandham, who played a cameo as a villain in my story, had now turned character artiste and thus an even bigger baddie in my Technicolor life. He had become my Father-in-Law.

After my marriage I continued to do movie reviews, but had toned down my language significantly. “The director must have been an idiot to have done that” became “With all due respect to the director, he could have handled it differently.” The Sachidanandhams continued to make awful movies, and I continued to avoid them. I felt sorry for the many young men being paraded into the beach-house, their faces covered with black cloth. And besides, everyone was trying their hand at movie reviews, so I thought I’d try something else.

And that’s how Foodline happened. I have been a hardcore foodie right from my college days. So when I decided to leave movie reviewing, Aarthi suggested I pick up food review. It sounded like a fantastic idea. I jumped right in and tried to review a few joints I had been to. It came out brilliant. Aarthi pulled up some of her contacts in a leading magazine, and they gave me an okay to feature my column in there every fortnight. They’ve made me quite a star. I get called by all the big restaurants in the city on opening night, and they usually have a table reserved just for me. I got my ruthlessness back and if some joint doesn’t live up to its promise in quality of food or its decor, one 500 word write up in my column, and they’d be thinking of moving shop. Like that awful Italian restaurant that closed business recently. But if some place manages to impress me, like this place did, I put in a few good words about them in my column, and their business simply takes off. You must read the latest column I’ve written, that comes out tomorrow. Its on this new posh joint called Rendezvous on Khader Nawaz Road. Awful, I tell you. Bland, Pricey and Awful. If you want to see how ruthless I can get, you should read that. I’m now considered the leading food critic of the city no doubt. But behind this success, there is a lot of struggle and a lot of hard work.

What would I tell your readers? Never give up your dream, even if it changes every month. 😉 Be the best in what you do. Speak your mind, but remember this. The key to success is to know when to open your mouth and when to shut up.

That’s all I’ve got to say. Alright boss, gotta run. Say Hi to Sasi for me. Got to attend this function with the Missus. Let me see where that is, she must’ve sent me a text. Khader Nawaz Road.. Rendez…

Give me a minute, I’ve got to make this call.

Hello? Hey Jose, Karthik here. Dude what was the name of the guy who owns Rendezvous that we are tearing up in tomorrow’s edition? Bharathan S? What does that S expand to???

Oh bloody no…

–x–

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The UniverCell Chennai Indiblogger Meet


I may be speaking for a few fellow bloggers out there when I say that I am not that comfortable with rules and things about blogging that are way too organized. And when I walked into the GRT Convention Center in Tnagar, this hot, sultry, Saturday afternoon, to attend the UniverCell Chennai Indiblogger Meet, and I saw a crowd queueing up for Registration, and a bunch of already  registered bloggers sitting there looking at the big screen, my first thought was, “Damn these guys are so organized. I’m at the wrong place.”

And boy, was it organized well or what? We queued up at the Registration desk in front of a laptop where we typed in our Indiblogger logon id. As each person got registered, his/her Indiblogger profile pic, along with his/her name got listed on that big screen under ‘Arrivals‘. Nifty little thing if you ask me. The big screen was the highlight IMHO. Tweets tagged with #indichn were streaming there, and all the bloggers armed with their mobiles, netbooks, laptops and any other wi-fi device known to man, got busy tweeting. Brave, Indiblogger Team, very brave. 🙂 There would have been close to 200 bloggers there, along with the sponsors, the media and the hosts – The Indiblogger team. And we were pretty soon, underway.

Hitler a Blogger?

The Meet kickstarted with this Video. I’m sure you have seen this on YouTube, but not with this ‘translation’ certainly. 🙂 Enough said, I’ll let Mr. Hitler do the talking. 🙂

30 Seconds of Fame?

I dreaded this… I sure did. But it was indeed neccessary if you had to know who you had in that room. And so it began. 200 odd bloggers, taking turns introducing themselves, with almost no one sticking to the actual ’30 seconds’. To be frank, a few bloggers were indeed funny and crisp. While a few, well, made us sleepy. I discovered my long lost schoolmate, now entrepreneur extraordinaire – @balajil there in the introductions. And I was delighted. I now had a known face to go with a lot of known Twitter handles there. But what delighted me most, was when I stood up and introduced myself and said I blog at Idlivadasambar.wordpress.com, I heard some cheering around which surprised the sanity out of me, and I went ‘What? Really?” 😀 Was delighted guys. You are rockstars. Made my day. And there was still more left.

Bloggers and Backscratching?

And then came the fun part. Socializing. Well, to be frank, I find chatting up in real world a wee bit odd. This was no different. But @balajil, helped me get started and I kinda tagged along. It was a fun little thing. We were ‘Chart-Men’ with a sheet of paper danging in place of a cape, for people to identify us, and leave their urls/twitter handles/and anything else they wanted to say, behind. I had quite a few people who walked up to me and said that they loved my posts. I was surprised, and totally blown away. Those who didn’t know me really wanted to check my blog out. And I honestly think, the title had something to do with it. 😀 This was perhaps the highlight of the evening. The bloggers, and their backscratching. My sheet was decently filled, but my enthusiasm, overflowing. 😀

Sponsor Speak.

UniverCell were sponsoring the event and used the opportunity to launch their own blog. They passed around a few mobile phones for people to feel and touch, and then go home and blog about it. The best blogger would get to work full-time as a blogger with UniverCell. Neato. I did want to try out the Touch Diamond, but sadly the phone never reached me. 🙂

Discussion or Pattimanram?

Ok. I’ll be frank. This was my least favourite part of the evening. It was supposed to be a Traditional Media Vs Blogging, kind of a ‘discussion’. Turned out to be a one to one pattimanram kind of an event with a strong Tamil flavour, and irritating a lot of non-Tamil bloggers as well. The highlight of this particular segment however, was the large screenon the background, that was ticking away with tweets from bored bloggers, venting out their frustration, which ended up as a funny, delightful reminder of why you shouldn’t really irritate, a bunch of bloggers armed with free wifi. 😀 @shilparathnam anchored it with Bala Bharathy from Zee and another gentleman doing the majority of the talking. Could have been a lot better.

Show Me the Food.

And then, the moment everyone was waiting for. FREE FOOD. On the Menu, were delicious Chicken Sandwiches, Paneer Cutlets, Rasmalais, and Mango Ice Cream, to be washed down with a BIG bowl of Coffee. I will not embarass myself by saying how much I ate. But trust me when I say, I was HUNGRY. 😀 Super Food. Loved it.

Tea on My Shirt?

Well… That too. 😉 But when the Indiblogger team announced that t-shirts were going to be distributed, a queue sprang up, faster than you could say ‘me too’. And in the queue, new friends were being made, cards and urls were exchanged, photos were clicked and a solid 3 hours of fun, thus came to an end.

Overall?

Brilliantly done Indiblogger. Organized well, and executed in super fashion. Would love to be back when it is back in Chennai.

A few things I took away from the meet.

1. The Chennai Blogger Crowd is alive and kicking.

2. Tamil Bloggers are in awesome number here. Alright!

3. My blog’s USP is its title. 😀

4. Never irritate someone who is on Twitter.

5. Its a pretty, god-damn, small world.

6. A Rasmalai when in contact with tomato sauce, tastes funny. 🙂

7. When you are talking to a blogger, you better keep it crisp.

8. A full tummy

9. A super tshirt

10. Anything related to blogs, needn’t always be unorganized. 😉

Here are a few pics I clicked on my phone

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Asal pain in the ‘Thala’


Mr Ajith Sir,

We know you love your shades and expensive coats. We saw enough of that in Billa. But trust me. After a while, it gets boring. 🙂

We know that you love to change your getups in movies. But we just couldn’t look at your face, past the dark smoke of your cigars, that hideous beard-mush combo and those extra large shades.

We know the producers are quite a well to do family of Tamil Cinema, but that doesn’t mean you needed to ground your story in France and spend a million Euros on showing that you can. “Enna Kodumai Producer Sir idhu?”

We know you like to walk in slow motion, but why did you fight in fast-forward?

We know you can’t dance for a million bucks, then why even try?

We’ve seen ‘Red’, and that’s why I appreciate your ‘power of silence’ in this movie.

We know you have a head, and you are a Tamil actor. Why then sir, do people keep calling you ‘Thala‘. It gives a serious Thala Vali after a point.

We know that the director made some good movies with you earlier. But he also made this blockbuster called ‘Modhi Vilayaadu‘ recently, which when premiered on Vijay TV, people prefered to sleep.

We read that you wrote the story/dialogs for the movie. I bet it was the silent parts.

We know this movie is a James Bond-ish wannabe, but fails miserably. And I loved it so much that I left it midway.

Mr Ajith Sir, semma comedy sir neenga. If you make a good film soon, I promise I’ll try to watch it completely next time.

Watch out sir, films like these make me want to make a Tamil Padam 2 soon. And there are people out there in Kollywood with the exact same thought in their mind and more money than me. 😀

Asal - Thala Vali

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My Name is… Well you know…


Lets get this straight. Not everyone can make a classic like Forrest Gump. Shahrukh is no Tom Hanks. And no matter how different it is from his mushy movies of yore, it is still a Karan Johar movie. But having said that, My Name is Khan works, and has its moments.

I have always considered Shahrukh more as a star than an actor. The only couple of exceptions perhaps being Swades – where he showed considerable maturity as an actor (and maybe, perhaps why the film bombed), and to some extent, Chak de India. Ok, perhaps even Dil Se, if you point a gun at me. His performance in MNIK may creep into this list of mine with time. There are some scenes where he is utterly believable as an Asperger’s Syndrome affected person. But there are some scenes, which seem contrived. But then, we’ve come to live with that, haven’t we?

Kajol breathes life into the role of a single mom with conviction, and aces her ‘Mandira’. There are some big actors, who have been wasted in insignificant roles. And, is the president in the end supposed to be Obama? Yeah, right. 😀

The movie works well in most parts. The SRK-Kajol Chemistry rocks. The little, innocent, one liners, do bring on a smile. It tries hard to puncture those tear glands, and even works some times. But it ends, IMHO, in a tad filmy note.

But what else do you expect, its a Karan Johar movie. I’m sure MNIK will have a lot of people squealing at the greatness of SRK, and it will set the cash registers ringing. But my honest opinion is that the movie, and SRK, could indeed have been better.

And no, I’m not going to end with a ‘My name is…’ joke. I’m tired doing that all day.

My Name is Khan – And I could have been better

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