Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sivaji – A visual delight!!

Few movies have been made in Tamil cinema or for that matter in bollywood too that have seen such a tremendous response as Sivaji has. It has broken umpteen numbers of records even as it is still in the first week of its release.

In director Shankar, actor Rajnikanth is lucky to have got a man who is known to make movies that enthrall the audience visually. Boys, Gentleman, Anniyan and Mudhalvan had one thing in common – lavishly created sets to shoot songs and some good music that left the audience asking for more. Following the same trend, Sivaji sees the return of Shankar-Rehman duo and quite expectedly, the result is a visual delight.

It would take extreme courage for any producer to make a movie that is believed to be the most extravagant in Indian cinema’s history. But, if the hero is Rajnikanth and if his last release was 2 years back, it is no surprise at all.

Coming to the movie, it has got everything that an ardent Rajni fan expects of his icon. From a good dose of style to a larger than life image, the veteran actor proves once again that he can still attract crowds in his inimitable style.

The hero takes on the tax evaders and in the process, one gets to see some fight scenes that only the super star can do without appearing ridiculous. The first half could have done with some editing as the first song obviously drags. In the company of Vivek, Rajni manages to make the audience laugh and the jokes are not rehashed 0nes either. The standout ones are those in which the superstar experiments with fair and lovely to win over his lady love and those in which he imitates MGR. The make up artists have done their homework commendably well and all along their effort and work has not gone unnoticed.

The second half is more action packed and stylish. Special credit should be given to Shreya Saran who does her job neatly. Looking glamorous seems to be her only job and in low-waist saris and skimpy costumes, she does that. I am curious to know how she fares from now on as undoubtedly, this movie with the superstar would give her a wide visibility.

Apart from having all the ingredients of a blockbuster, the movie sends subtle hints of a political career for Rajni. The hero has a huge fall from riches to rags and the next day, he outwits the villain and laughs in his face. That can happen only in extremely imaginative cinema, but who cares for reality and possibilities anyway!! The movie is definitely a ‘paisa vasool’ mass entertainer that will keep the cash registers ringing for a long time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Political analyst Cho Ramaswamy once remarked in a television show: “If the Left has a future, India will have no future left.”

In India, the left parties comprising the CPI and the CPI (M) enjoy power with absolutely no accountability and sense of proportion. Wielding considerable political clout only in three states – West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, they get to have a say on almost everything the centre does and expect the centre to toe their line too. They don’t form part of the union cabinet and yet the UPA gives in every time they raise a hue and cry. The latest episode is their rejection of presidential hopefuls – Shivraj Patil and Karan Singh.

They comment on the entry of foreign firms in the retail sector, FDI caps and agricultural policies to be pursued and the Government like a good school boy listens.

Yet, North Bengal is literally one area in the country that competes for the top spot when it comes to hunger related deaths and malnutrition. The SEZ row in Nandigram doesn’t seem to head towards a quick solution either.

It would be better if the communists of this country respect the people’s mandate and confine themselves to wielding a proportional sense of power. It would definitely be in the larger interests of the society!!

Is this Empowerment?

In the past few days, we have been constantly hearing about the nomination of Pratibha Patil to the post of president by the UPA-Left combine. Her are some comments that are being flashed across the news channels on her “elevation” and what it means to womenfolk of the country.

Pratibha Patil: “It shows that women are respected in this country.”

“I’ll not be a rubber-stamp president.”

Congress party spokesperson, Jayanti Natarajan: “The opposition should gracefully refrain from contesting against the UPA-Left nominee.”

Sonia Gandhi: “It is a historic moment for the country.”

Shobha De: “It is an insult to women.”

DMK Chief: “From here on, it is your rule.” (To a woman journalist)

Some questions that her candidature has thrown up:

Is her gender getting unfair attention?

Were their more worthy candidates (Men and Women) for the post?

Who is Pratibha Patil?
Born in Maharashtra, she made a mark in state politics by rising from humble beginnings. She has served as a minister in the state cabinet; has been deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and more importantly has maintained a low profile and has a clean, non-controversial public image. One thing that clearly went in her favor is her loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family.

This shrewd political move on the part of the congress largely due to the absence of consensus on other candidates has been turned into an attempt on the part of the Government towards empowering women. If it is really what it is being made out by the Government, the centre should have considered only the names of women from the beginning. Instead, it went about trying to build consensus on Shivraj Patil, Karan Singh and Shinde and only when these attempts failed, it found the Rajasthan Governor to be the perfect choice acceptable to all parties. The flipside is that she is being judged even before she has occupied the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

By choosing a political person who has been a lawyer and who has been an efficient administrator, it has opted for the right person. But in the process, many other names that enjoy greater stature and who have been in the public eye for greater lengths of time have lost out. The reason put forward is that, one cannot try and please everybody.

Women hold critical decision—making positions in the Indian political scene with Sonia Gandhi and Mayawati being prime examples. Yet, there are no strong women ministers in the center and in UP. And ironically, the Government expects the people to be fooled by this elevation of the Rajasthan governor to a nominal post!!! One only expects our womenfolk to see through all this and decide for themselves.

Monday, June 4, 2007

In the city's trains

Chennai city has its share of attractions like all major cities do. The electric train and the marina beach would be at the very top when one tries to compare the city with any other Indian city.

This post is totally devoted to my experiences traveling in the city’s suburban trains. Traveling by these trains always leaves one with a myriad of experiences if one has the eye to look around and observe people. The sheer number of vendors trying to sell their wares at any point of the day is mindblowing. Each person has his/her own way of wooing a potential customer.

I have just tried to capture a single day’s experience here.

It was a hot Sunday but by Chennai standards, a relatively bearable one. I boarded the EMU at Mambalam that day. Ranganathan Street is a paradise for the city’s shoppers and inevitably always crowded. People got into the train with their shopping bags full. I was surprised to see a gentleman getting in carrying a cycle. It was a small bicycle he had just brought for his little son who was all smiles.

I got myself a seat luckily and looked around at my co-passengers. Sitting across from me on the opposite side was a young lady and a boy, apparently her friend. She was tall, had thick eyebrows and long hair. Simple and beautiful looking, she attracted quite a few approving glances. Her hair kept blowing in her face and her hands were making almost involuntary movements to keep it in place. She was looking a little tired and soon her eyelids drooped.

The bicycle meanwhile was touched, caressed and commented on by some curious passengers. Everybody seemed to have an opinion all of a sudden. A few were appreciative of its color, a few were critical of its cost, some commented that the tires wouldn’t last long... all this was going on while the boy was happy and smiling to himself on his father’s buy.

A little child of around 2-3 years was trying to touch the cycle and his toothless smile was directed at the boy. Soon enough, he was trying to sit on it with the boy’s help and his face glowed with pride when he was comfortably seated.

As stations sped past, the child was placed in the lap of the small boy while his parents carefully made sure that he wouldn’t fall. All these simple and common place incidents were occasionally spoilt by the glaring ring tones from somebody’s cell phone. But, they nevertheless provided me with much needed amusement and lifted my spirits after a long hot day spent in the midst of a mad shopping crowd.

Many people spend a good amount of time commuting in these trains and for them these little incidents serve as pleasant diversions. For these alone, I have always preferred the trains over buses. One has to just look around and be rest assured that one’s short journey is full of amusing experiences!!