Saturday, July 29, 2017

Vikram Vedha

#vikramvedha #pushkargayathri #visreviews #madhavan #vijaysethupathi
Do not read - SPOILERS ahead
Around 30 minutes into the movie, Vijay sethupathis awesome intro scene starts and at that point you will realise this is no ordinary cop and thief movie. What a scene it was. If you are a fan of the actor (which I am), you would recognize him from his trademark lazy stroll.
But it is #madhavan that makes the first entry as Vikram the cop in a brilliant shoot out. The first scene is important, for there are many clues in that scene which finally helps solve the story.
Vedha is the story telling ghost in the movie. And the first story is the most important one.
The movie follows the concept of the #vikramadithyan and the vetaal ghost stories. Those who have read Amar Chitra Katha books will know the story of the king who captures a ghost for a sorcerer. The ghost tells him a story and asks him a question. Everytime the king breaks his silence and answers, the ghost escapes.
His first act as a rowdy is such a psychological game play. And that is who vedha is, he is always the mastermind and instigator. Like the devil who whispers in your ears, creating doubt and making you question things. But is the devil wrong to make you question things that are not as black and white as you assume it is?
Refusing to talk to anyone, vedha only opens up to Vikram, planting the first seeds of doubt on what is good and bad through a flashback story with hidden clues and riddles for Vikram to solve. His first story spans 13 years and talks about him and his brother - pulli.
The movie has been brilliantly written and directed by the husband and wife team of Pushkar And Gayathri who have only 3 movies to their credit in 10 years! (need to go watch them!). On one hand you have this awesome thriller unfolding and then you have the brilliant crisp script with catchy phrases wrote perfectly for each character. Characters both actors have lived as. Actually everyone has done a great job in their respective characters. Everyone had a role to play, including the parotha and athu Kari.
Vikram continues till the very end to be the weapon by first his commending officer and finally by vedha. Yes he too becomes Vedha weapon, sprouting his lines from the first story at the climax. But it's not that Vikram isn't smart (he uncovers missing parts of the plot for vedha), he just isn't diabolically brilliant. Every story Vedha tells has clues in it and surprising twists. Including how vedha hires Vikrams wife as his lawyer. Vedha tells 3 stories that go 13 years back, then 2 years and finally 6 months.
One of my favourite scenes is neither of theirs though. It is when, Chandra, pullis girlfriend slaps him back for slapping him. What a character she was and unapologetically so. Played by Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, she does brilliantly even to her end. Watch her eyes in the last scene, there are clues even there. That girl deserves a movie of her own.
You will laugh and clap at the script in a story that didn't need a comedian to add irrelevant jokes. You sit there gripped to your seat, playing back parts of the previous scene in your mind while enthralled in the current frame. And you will have to go back many more times to piece the broken puzzle that shapes the movie. The clue to the climax was scattered around the film right from the beginning. Vikram remains true to his character till the very end, the honest cop but who now sees the shades of grey between both worlds. The women are strong and not hidden in the background or mere smiling, hip swaying props that kollywood loves. Vikrams wife Priya stands out as a brilliant lawyer refusing to given up her career for her husbands case and thus ensues a dilemma between husband and wife on where home and work ends.
The ending was a cliffhanger that had me go nooooo. I really hate cliffhangers but perhaps this will be the opening for a second movie so poor old vedha can finally tell his love story that no one wants to hear. Also there's a gap of 11 years between the first and second story. Much story to tell there.
Even their catchy item song tasukku by Sam C, didn't need an item girl to have us tapping our feet as vedha dances with Cheta. 😂 I loved the music especially Karupu vellai. Each song and lyrics was apt to the movie. There were many misleading details added in to confuse the audience. Like the use of goons from kerala puts in the assumption that they were hired by Cheta but that's not it. The weapon that vedha nurtured in Madhavan explodes precisely in clarity at the climax as he spews the same lines Vedha told him in his first story. The transformation was now complete.
And so I can happily quote Vijay sethupathis with a line from another movie of his - kumutha happy anachi, kumutha happy. 😀

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dunkirk



Watched #dunkirk the #ww2 movie yesterday #visreviews 

Now go watch it if you enjoy ww2 related movies. don't go coz its a christopher nolan movie coz it isn't his usual kind. its pretty straight forward but interestingly you wont see a single nazi in the movie. and this movie looks at the failure of the Allied army at that time and how they were saved by fishermen from britain. the movie doesnt have big war scenes but focuses on the soldiers struggle to survive. Also pilots get a more significant role in this movie. 

However do note that ww2 movies might give you a glimpse of a story but is not an actual representation of history. in this case Nolan as well as with most hollywood directors, the contribution of indian soldiers are not even portrayed. historically indians fought on both sides in ww2 - as soldiers under the raj and as rebel soldiers under #ina - the independence movement led by subash chandra bose. INA fought alongside the japanese against the white mans colonisation. 

Unfortunately the same japanese sent to their death, millions of indians who worked to build the death railway. their names, numbers and even death were never recorded by the japanese nor are there memorials for them at ww2 sites. 

Indians fought at Monte Cassino. They were there at Bir Hachiem, Tobruk, El Alamein, Singapore, Hong Kong. And they were there from where it all began -Dunkirk. 

So if you do watch it, come back and read up on the actual history and articles talking about it. 

more photos at my Instagram 
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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Wonder Woman


#wonderwoman #kualalumpur

#visreviews 
Have you watched #wonderwoman - i hope you managed to catch it

i had been waiting for the movie so long - i went and watched it on the very first day. and it was omg so good - the photo you see above is my favourite scene.

one of the things i realised from watching the movie was - this is who you become if you grew up in a gender biasless world. A world where you are not told - you are a women you cant do that. you are a women you are weaker than men, you are a woman, so you must behave like one, you are a women, know your place.

because she grew up in such an environment, it doesnt even occur to her that the men are shocked that she dared to walk into the ww1 meeting. her confidence shines throughout the movie.

this was one movie where any girl or women will come out feeling empowered.

So do bring your daughters or the women in your life to watch the movie. let them feel empowered too

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Bahuballi 2


#bahubali2 #visreviews

I hope you got to watch the movie of the week. I ended up going on a crazy goose chase trying to get tickets at the last minute on Saturday. Most of the shows were sold out in my usual theatres of choice in the Klang Valley. Luckily good old #pjstate came to the rescue and we got tickets.

The movie was epic, loved so many things about it minus some funny unbelievable stunts at the end. (insert laugh at that flying of the Palm tree scene). The storyline was brilliant, I loved the sneaky mind tricks of #palavadevan Rana Daggubati. It was like watching him play chess, as each of his moves pushed him to the desired check mate - to be crowned king. The brilliance of his mind and his practiced patience was so well portrayed.

#ramyakrishnan as Sivagami shines in her role right from the first movie. Despite the storyline she continued to be an amazing character in this epic series.

Every character from Satyraj to Nasser stood out in their respective roles. I did feel that the movie was a bit rushed but there was just so much that needed to be told without having a plot hole so it is unfortunately an edit that was needed.

To be honest I would love to see more epic warrior fight dance scenes between Prabas and Anushka.
The songs were pretty disappointing though, nothing left a lasting impression. What I loved was that Swan ship and the mammoth castles - one Swan like n the other a majestic elephant.

I must mention the spectacular jewelry and costumes in the movie. I had earlier read articles on how the sarees were custom made for the movie. But I thought those jewellery outshined the costumes. So much attention has gone to details. The graphics were pretty good as well, and might I say one of the best I've seen in an Indian movie. Anyone who is sitting and criticising them must have some hell of a standard.

But most of all I loved both the two strong female portrayals in the movie. Anushka #anushkashetty was just brilliant as the female warrior princess. Her never-ending passion to better herself was inspiring. She didn't need saving and was instead more concerned on saving others. Hers was a character... (cont in comments)

Hers was a character role female actresses rarely get in this industry. She didn't need to be demure and docile nor limited to singing (though she does that too). I am so glad the director #ssrajamouli made such strong female characters.

And then he crafts a hero that is so rare in indian cinema. I loved Bahubali. Here was this talented, people loving hero who was humble and dutiful but most of all who respected and treated women as equals.

The photo I've shared is from the scene where he finally reveals himself to Devasena as a warrior and teaches her to shoot more than one arrow at a time. The choreography of that scene is amazing as they both get in sync and start fighting together. Just as he is in sync with kattapa.

Instead of being intimidated by the strong, smart and talented woman that #devasena was, Baahubali instead saw her as an equal and wanted her to grow in strength with him. That scene was a perfect example of what equal partnership between genders are and how mutual respect only benefits each other.

Despite being the crown prince of a much bigger empire, he listens to her concerns and promises to guard her dignity and her right to choose and defends it to his mother - the powerful and brilliant #Sivagami

I read a review that the movie gave an Amar Chitra Katha feel. I don't know why that sounds like an insult because it is time that those legends, stories and epic stories of Indias past are made into movies. India is so rich with stories and history that is barely touched on screen. I hope Bahubalis success will see more south Indian cinema makers taking the stories of Hoysala, Kalinga, Cheran , Chola, Pandiyan, Chalukya and many more to the Silver screen. Hollywood keeps remaking King Arthur and we keep celebrating it. Shouldn't we be tapping into our history for much more dramatic untold stories?

So do go watch the movie. I am dying to find the first movie, so I can watch that and this back to back again.

The review can also be found here 

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Katru velliyidai – what an anti climax


Ps: spoiler alert review – don’t read if you haven’t watched


I was excited that Maniratnam was back with a movie. The trailers showed that it was a love story. The songs didn’t make sense but I figured Mani would know where to insert them. Unless for Kadal, there has never been a movie I did not like (though I have yet to watch Ok Kanmani).

But towards the end there were reports that Karthi was playing the role of an abusive boyfriend. I was a bit hesitant of watching the movie simply because Mani loves a good love story and his lovers always reunited no matter if the ending was happy or not. There was also the fact that the plot was pretty obvious. Set during the kargil war, I was sure he would be captured by the enemy. I wanted to see whether he would make it back (though again Mani’s formula always reunites lovers).

And as expected the songs made sense, the movie, cinematography was brilliant. Kashmir is just so stunning in the lens of the camera. There were so many scenes that are still in my mind – right from how brilliantly they were framed even in an action moment to the vibrant colours. Both their actings and the very minor roles of the other actors were great as well. But I’m not here to talk about that but about the storyline itself.

And I was happy that she stood up for herself. Though refusing to leave as a snow storm was forming was pretty stupid. Common sense would have made anyone run for the lives so that scene made her an educated doctor look stupid. But then again common sense is not so common after all.

I love that she questions him on why her opinions didn’t matter – was it coz she was a woman or a civilian. Karti replied in the latter eventually – men are hunters, we are not same physically.

The argument (quiet in Mani’s style) ends with him pushing her and she walks away.

As with the characteristics of all abusive people (men or women) – sorry slips through his lips as easy as a and b and his apologies tend to come with elaborate romantic gestures. Phrases like “we are not equal, you are much superior than me” “I need you, I am nothing without you” – are spoken so easily and so emotionally manipulative. Karthi has done a brilliant job acting as the abusive boyfriend Varun @ VC with sparks of craziness often showing in stills, right from the start. The only problem with that is, mentally abusive (which is much worse than physically abusive people) people rarely show craziness to anyone around them. They most you would see a sparks of anger and instant seeking of forgiveness especially when it happens in a public setting.

Which is why victims tend to rarely actually leave. They are wrapped up in conflicting emotions of anger, guilt and love that they are sucked back in everytime. Yet deep down they know, the person hasn’t changed. That was brilliantly etched in Leela’s expression when she forgives him, thinking he truly means it when it was all a means to win a bet and save face with his mates – and he declares to them - MY WOMAN would listen to me, and you can all dream of getting a woman like this.

Interestingly Mani doesn’t show him hitting her – despite the threat and shove. What he did was show the kind of abusive people that often goes unnoticed. Everytime they argue, he grabs her forcefully but not in an abrupt manner but rather in a subtle manner. This is the kind of abuse that goes unnoticed (but he didn’t hit her, it was just verbal arguments) and women are often told to give in. And he is abusive even to her family – theres a scene where he is asked to leave from the colonels funeral and he returns in the evening (after everyone has left) to abuse her family who don’t respond to him at all. He gets angered that he is ignored and not a word is said and lashes out at them (case of feeling unrespected).

It’s not that VC doesn’t know he is abusive, he knows that he is similar to his own abusive father but he thinks he isn’t as bad. There’s a scene where he stands up for his mother and disabled brother but at the very same time attacks Leela. That’s a classic example of kids who grew up in abusive environments who tend to be protective to ones they have seen being abused but are unable to correlate their own abusive nature.

She finally walks away and doesn’t divulge her whereabouts to her friends. In that time VC is captured by the Enemy and rots in a jail in Pakistan. The movie was set around the Kargil war ( I must say I was hoping for a proper tribute to the war but this wasn’t that). In that time he is filled with remorse, seemingly showing signs of remorse, and that it is thoughts of Leela that is keeping him alive. He escapes, returns and starts searching for her.

This is the part that I am unable to accept. Right up to this point Mani has created a strong woman who stands up and eventually walks away. He has also tackled a few other social policing in this movie. Leela left VC despite being 3 months pregnant, and that is one of the strongest moments in this movie – done very subtly (again a Mani trademark), that it doesn’t hit you that she left while being pregnant till you sit down and contemplate the movie. There’s also a wedding scene (loved the cinematography there btw) where the bride is 9 months pregnant and is rushed to the hospital in labour on her wedding day. So up till the ending, Mani has done a movie that shows characters that defy social stigma, social expectations on what is expected of a woman.  

So Vc finds the camp where Leela works but he doesn’t approach it and instead sits and waits in the sand. Leela spots him and rushes to him. The scene is similar to that moment in Alaypayudhe when Shalini rushes to Madhavan and professes her love. Only the moments in the relationship is different. There, they were at the beginning of the courtship. Here we are at the reuniting moment of lovers who are no longer together.

That strong women we saw in the last 2hours and 15 minutes is gone. Instead this woman is gushing in happiness, wants to hug him, wants him back. VC asks – did they say I was dead – missing in action (probably wondering why she is happy to see him) but she says no, I knew you were back, I saw it on tv. She then introduces their daughter Ro (yes she kept the baby – another social stigma addressed – unmarried mother). And the next thing we know, in the shortest Mani climax ever, they are hugging and back together. And VC asks why didn’t you call and she says – I didn’t know if you will accept Ro and me.

I’m all for forgiveness but at no point does she question whether he has changed. They barely met for a few minutes. Seriously this was the shortest and what felt like a rushed climax I have seen in a Mani movie. Instead she was worried that he wouldn’t accept her. Hello what happened to that strong women who walked away while being 3 months pregnant? Who tells VC that she doesn’t care about marriage or having a baby – she just wants him – where’s that liberal woman?    

I was just sitting in disbelief at that scene and mumbling when my friend says – dai why you hating on her getting sex after three years? As funny as that is, lets take sex into equation, Leela had no qualms of sleeping with VC, in that three years if sex was the issue, it could have been with anyone else. To suddenly show that she was a traditional woman who only slept with one man would make the whole character build-up of Leela mean nothing!

Or was it that society got to her? Did the last three years of being a single mother make her feel it was better to be with an abusive man than be alone? That will be contradictory to the fact that she was travelling in remote places in India with the Red Cross together with her child. That’s a woman who refused to abandon the kid she decided to have out of wedlock nor her passion to serve where medical help was much needed.

So how did that women, accept VC without even asking him – how do I know you have actually changed?

Or did his being a captive prisoner, make her forget all the bad memories and remember only the jaded good moments in their relationship that seeing him was actually seeing that jaded vision of him built in her mind?

Or was Mani just showing that as with many abused victims, the victim often goes back at the first sight of remorse?

Tragic isn’t it if that was the case?

#kaatruveliyidai #maniratnam


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Adiwiraku


#adiwiraku #cherylannfernando
#teachformalaysia #malaysia 
Adiwiraku - my superheroes

Yesterday I watched the #malaysianmovie#adiwiraku - wanted to catch it on another day until i realised yesterday was the last day the movie was showing in most theaters. today onwards theres only about 5 theatres showing it.

I roughly knew the story as its based on the true life story of Cheryl Ann Fernando who left her job to join #teachformalaysia and become a teacher. i had briefly followed her story earlier. 
now the movie will touch your hearts. you will love the kids, you will love the two teachers, you will cry, you will be sad, you will laugh. 

iqbal, khairi and imran were my favourites. 

there was just a few people in the theatre but we all ended up just sitting there and watching the credits. we were moved by the movie, saddened and probably reflecting on our own privileged lives. 

yes we are very privileged. these kids like many poor rural kids, have very little money, food or even support and most of all people who believe in them. i have written on this many times. while our education system has its issues, what we are not taking into account is that just attending school doesn't create students. its much more complicated then that. you have kids that can barely read.

which is why i get upset with people who put down others for bad english. that person might not have had the same priviliges that you did. there is no need to mock someones language, instead if you are that concerned, help them privately. 

poverty, family situations, hunger eventually leads to kids dropping out of schools at 14/15. some work, some end up in a life of crime. 

Please go watch the movie, its a simple well taken #Malaysian story with a very deep meaning.

its still playing in midvalley. please do support such beautiful local movies. 


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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Goodbye JJ



It was 1994, we were in Chennai for my father's upcoming surgery. My first trip to India.

We were staying at Poes Garden Road where both Jayalalithaa and Rajnikanth lived.

One evening as we were walking back from Sangeetha after dinner, the roads were cordoned off from people, no one could cross or drive past. Amma was on her way.

My karunanithi and MGR loving father wasn't amused (yes apparently they could love both). I was amused we couldn't even cross the road. 30 minutes later, sirens blarred and I had my first and only glimpse of the first female CM of Tamilnadu.

I laughed out loud coz she was sitting in between 2 black cats jutting out of the window with their behinds facing her.

She lost the next term and after another trip in 1995, we never returned to India till she was back in power. Funnily we seemed to be in Chennai only with Jayalalitha as a CM. I don't think my father was amused with that.

While politics was a staple conversation at home, my political views had only began forming in the last few years.

But it was in the last decade that I began admiring her. Here was a woman, who had stormed her male dominated party, and made them declare her as their leader. That too in a country and state where the female goddesses were revered and women treated as second class citizens.

She had balls. No matter what was thrown at her, she always never gave up and pushed to rise above. And she spoke eloquently in Tamil and English.

The musical political chair AIADMK and DMK used to play came to end when she won 2 consecutive terms and became the CM for a third time.

Every time the other side came to power, someone got arrested, education systems changed. She ever the advocate of English in public schools and he Tamil. Imagine books, syllabus all would be changed every time the other side took over.

The last decade has seen TN grow under her.

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the news of her demise and couldn't go back to sleep. Today an era ends.

This was the female leader the world should be looking up to. For she had to rise and execute her plans in a male chauvinistic political scene. Things were not just given to her.

She didn't have a family name nor people backing her. Her rise as first an actor and then a politician was her own hardwork.

But rise she did.

Goodbye JJ. There may never be another like you.

ps: written early this morning

Monday, August 29, 2016

Man in the mirror

In 1988, Michael Jackson released - the man in the mirror. That wasn't the song that made me a fan. It was Beat It from Thriller in 1982. I still remember watching wide eyed as video with that parking lot scene unfolded in front of me. I don't remember how old I was but it is one of my earliest memories and have since been a fan of the pop king - Michael Jackson. But his song - man in the mirror. I have tried to live to those words all my life for I truly belive - change begins with the man in the mirror. Happy birthday MJ. Don't think I'll ever stop missing you. I'm gonna make a change For once in my life It's gonna feel real good Gonna make a difference Gonna make it right As I, turn up the collar on My favorite winter coat This wind is blowing my mind I see the kids in the streets With not enough to eat Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs A summer disregard, a broken bottle top And a one man soul They follow each other on the wind ya' know 'Cause they got nowhere to go That's why I want you to know I'm starting with the man in the mirror I'm asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change1 I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love It's time that I realize That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone? A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart And a washed-out dream They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see 'Cause they got no place to be That's why I'm starting with me I'm starting with the man in the mirror I'm asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change I'm starting with the man in the mirror I'm asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself and then make that Change! I'm starting with the man in the mirror (Oh yeah!) I'm asking him to change his ways (Better change!) No message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself and then make the change) You gotta get it right, while you got the time You can't close your, your mind! (Then you close your, mind!) That man, that man, that man, that man With the man in the mirror (Man in the mirror, oh yeah!) That man, that man, that man I'm asking him to change his ways (Better change!) No message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself and then make the change Oh no, no no I'm gonna make a change It's gonna feel real good! Chime on! (Change) Just lift yourself You know You've got to stop it Yourself! (Yeah! Make that change!) I've got to make that change, today! Hoo! (Man in the mirror) You got to You got to not let yourself Brother Hoo! (Yeah! Make that change!) You know, I've got to get That man, that man (Man in the mirror) You've got to move! Chime on! Chime on! You got to Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! (Yeah! Make that change) Stand up and lift yourself, now! (Man in the mirror) You know it! You know it! You know it! You know it (Change) Make that change


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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Paal vadhiyum mugam

One of my favourite krishna songs. The thing with Krishna is, there is a song for every human emotion that relates back to him. Be it a mothers love for the little Krishna with milk flowing down his lips or for the Radhe in love with her Krishna. This song by Ootukadu Venkata Subbaiyer starts with a mothers love and rest can be interpreted as you want or your emotions then

paal vadiyum mugam ninainthu ninainthu en uLLam paravasam migavaaguthE kaNNaa - my heart leaps with joy as I see your beautiful face stained by milk neelak kadal pOlum niraththazhagaa - with skin as blue of the ocean, you are so beautiful enthan nenjam kudi koNda anRu mudhal inRum enthap poruL kaNdum sinthanai sellAdhozhiya - you rule my heart and nothing can move my thoughts away from you vaana mugattil saRRu manam vanthu nOkkinum un mona mugam vanthu thONudhE - in the nook of my heart, at a moments thought, your beautiful moon like face appears theLi vaana thaNNeer thadaththil en sinthanai maaRinum un siriththa mugam vanthu kaaNudhE saRRu - i see your beautiful smilling reflection in the clear pool of water gaanak kuyil kuralil karuththu amainthidinum angum un gaanak kuzhal Osai mayakkudhE - even as the birds sing, the beautiful sound of your flute, mesmerises me karutta kuzhalodu niRutta mayiliRag-iRukki amaitta tiRattilE - with a flute, and a peacock feather in your hair, gAna mayilADum mOnakkuyil pADum nIla nadiyOdum vanattilE - in a forest filled with dancing peacocks, singing birds, by the blue river kuzhal mudal ezhilisai kuzhaiya varum isaiyil kuzhlodu miLir iLang-karattilE - there in the midst of the forest music, your beautiful flute mesmerises us kadirum madiyum ena nayana vizhigal iru naLinamAna salanattilE - and your eyes dance to the tune of your music, as we stand mesmerised by the haunting music and your expressive eyes kaLinga sirattilE kaditta padittilE en manattai iruttik - There you are standing thriumphly on Kalingan's head, holding my breath and soul with it kanavu ninaivinodu piRavi piRavi tORum kaninduruga varam taruga param karuNai - i wish to be reborn in every birth with all these thoughts in my mind, oh please grant me this wish, oh kind benevolent one Ah what beautiful lyrics. Didn't post the song to translate this but as i was listening to it felt a need to translate the gem that it is. Btw there is an appropriate age for a dancer to do each Krishna. I find it very disconcerting to see a child dance and express radhes passionate love for Krishna. (yes it happens)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Good luck LCW, no matter what we MALAYSIANS are behind you

Tonight the world will witness one of the most celebrated rivalry in the history of badminton.
Lee Chong Wei vs Lin Dan
Our very own Lee Chong Wei or as we fondly refer to as LCW, is ranked no 1 worldwide while Lin Dan stands at third.
Yet there is a very interesting chemistry between both and what we Malaysians call the most nerve wrecking game.
If you watched LCW quarter finals game, you'll realise he is cool as a cucumber on the court. Yet its like theres a mental block everytime he meets Lin Dan who has won most of the games they have played against in.
Every single time they get together, it is so nerve wrecking, I am refusing to watch tonights game as I don't think I can take the pressure.
But I want Lee Chong Wei to win this game, and I am going to sit somewhere and read tweets and hope he wins.
I want Lee Chong Wei to retire with an Olympic gold medal. And that was why I like many other Malaysian was rooting for Indias Srikanth when he met Lin Dan in the QF.
This is his and Lin Dan's last Olympic. This game is one of those semi finals that are greater that the finals. one of those semi final meets that we hope were Finals but alas fate often doesn't give us what we want.
Lee Chong Wei is a hero for every Malaysian. Regardless of the outcome tonight, he has our hearts. He has throughout his career been an absolute inspiration.
I met him a few years ago during a Merdeka parade. He was a quiet, humble man who obliged every fan who rushed to take a photo with him. And that is why I hope he gets his Olympic gold. He more than deserves it.
Good luck LCW, no matter what we MALAYSIANS are behind you.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Malaysians you guys rock

Dear Berita Harian and Kosmo, or whoever else who has decided to write a negative post on our awesome Olympic heroes chan peng soon and goh liu ying silver medal win - THANKS.

Coz if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have woken up to Malaysians of all races and walks of life, standing UNITED to thrash you guys.

So thank you for that cheap publicity attempt, you have just proven what I've always said - despite everything MALAYSIANS are amazing beautiful people who will stand up for their fellow MALAYSIANS when it matters.

Malaysians you guys rock. Stand united always, don't let words break us, instead stand together, remember we are brothers and sisters regardless of race, colour or gender.


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

So tell me Malaysians, are you FANS or SPECTATORS?

It was the 1998 commonwealth games.

‪#‎Malaysia‬ played host to the games that year which coincidentally took place very near to where i lived.

While all the euphoria was happening. One of the greatest achievements of our Malaysian athletes was unfolding before us. Our mens hockey team was advancing ahead.

On 17 September 1998, Malaysia beat Canada 2-1 to top Pool B and head into the quarter finals. Malaysians started flooding every single game thereafter and it was entirely impossible to get tickets.

We had been trying to get tickets but couldn't get a single one.

And then on 19 September, Malaysia beat one of the top favourites that year India 1-0, in the Semi Finals to advance to the Finals. the country erupted with euphoria.

And somehow we finally got tickets to the final match on Sunday, 20th September 1998 where Malaysia was to meet Australia. And we were a big group of Indians, friends of friends, i think about 20 of us.

All of us were carrying the Malaysian flag and were one boisterous bunch. Somehow we ended up sitting right behind the Australian teams side bench and there we were waving our Malaysian flag and chanting Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysia non stop!!!

We were so loud, the Australian team kept looking at us on and off while waiting for the game to start, and we sheepishly smiled and waved back.

The stadium was flooded with hysterical fans, with groups sporting the kompang* and playing their hearts out, riling us fans even further. We were there to support our team, our Malaysians who had done the unimaginable to reach the finals of the coveted Commenwealth games. The whole stadium was filled with Malaysians that day.

Alas the gold was not ours to be. We actually got thrashed by Australia 4 - 0.

I remember the first time Australia scored, we were all still hopeful, cheering the team on. We were thinking its ok just one goal. When the second goal went in, some of us were still hopeful. But by the time the third goal entered, the stadium was eerie and we were slumped in our chairs. most of the spectators started leaving. Our group continued to stay on. By the time the fourth goal went in, most spectators had left. we decided to stay on and cheer them on during the medal giveaway.

Our boys had come far, they were not even on our list of hopeful medal tallys. How could we abandon them now just for losing the final game? THEY still won us the SILVER!!!!

But of course spectators will be just that. We on the other hand were fans.

When the Malaysia team took the podium to receive the silver medal. We loudly cheered them on, standing on our feet and clapping as hard as possible as we were the few remaining people in the stadium. And our voices reached them and all the teams turned to look back at us.

Of course there's always one crazy guy in the group. That was when one guy decided to scream at the top of his lungs - "I love you (a players name, can't remember who) can I have your shirt, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

We practically scrambled to sit down at that point from embarrassment. Anyway to the 1998 Commenwealth games Malaysian Hockey Team - that was us.

The reason I'm writing this today is coz this morning we woke up to the amazing news that our Mixed badminton doubles team just advanced to the Olympics finals after Chan Peng Soon - Goh Yiu Ling beat the team from China.

They will face Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir in Wednesdays final.

This is a historic moment for us as they have already won us a confirmed first medal in the mixed doubles category in badminton. To me THEY are already winners and we can only get further from here. All you need to do is give them your undying support no matter what happens on Wednesday.

Whether Malaysian wins its first ever Olympic gold doesn't matter, what we as MALAYSIANS do matters.

Don't walk away, don't boo them, don't put them down with words anywhere. Give them your support. Stand up and clap, raise the Jalur Gemilang and wave it proudly.

Regardless of what happens, Chan Peng Soon - Goh Yiu Ling are already our winning heroes.

I have no doubt we will celebrate this together somewhere, in a mamak or at wherever they show this game. But i need you to not leave the arena, no matter what happens.

Be FANS and not SPECTATORS.

So tell me Malaysians, are you FANS or SPECTATORS?

kompang - malay drum

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The wonders of Seven



The wonders of Seven
Where do I begin? Should I start by waxing lyricals on the amazing music or that the dance was so divine, the mother goddess herself decided to dance for us?

Sapthashree presented by the talented dancers of Suvarna Fine Arts and its founder Ajith Bhaskar Dass was an evening of enthralling music and exhilarating dance.

I first watched Suvarna in 2010 during Raghava Yadha as part of the dance reviews I was writing for Asiadancechannel and have since been a fan of the stories that Ajith brings in his dance productions.
This year’s exhilarating combination of dance and music brought me back to the memories of another Suvarna production, the haunting music of Vishmaya Vriksha in 2011 by G.S. Rajan, T.S. Lazar & Achutyan Shashidaran Nair or Bhumi Pranam by Achutyan Shashidaran Nair in 2012.

There is no dance without music for it is only with music than the dancers efforts shine as the music stirs your soul and the dance awakens your imagination.

This year Ajith took to the team of 7 or saptha and presented 4 dance numbers in a continuous programme. This is something I’ve always found interesting with Suvarna productions. That he takes one core unit and weaves different stories and experiences into a production. The number has numerous references in the Indian mythology right down to the fact that Triputha thala is a set of 7 beats – takita takadhmi.

Divine Music

Soul wrenching.

That was what the music was. The music composers K. Venkateshwaran (who was also the vocalist for the production) and Dr S Vasudevan have done such an amazing job with the music. Every point or expression they wanted to emphasis through their music was clearly encapsulated in the tunes and lyrics. They seemed to have pandered to every creative request of the dance director, the music dances on its own, vibrating through the soul. Both the Saptha Shakthi and Saptha Tarangini are stunning original compositions, so beautifully rich and so emotionally stirring. K. Venkateshwaran brought out the musics beautiful essence in his soulful rendition of his creation.  At some points of the performance, I wasn’t sure of whom to watch, the musicians or the dancers. Both were equally dazzling.

He was amply supported by the brilliant nattuvangist Sajilal Narayanan who added even more drama to the performance. Achyuthan Sashidaran Nair on the violin was as brilliant as usual. Any performance with him on the musician list, is always a delight to the years. I was surprised at Theban Arumugams mirdangam playing. He was excellent this time as compared to when I heard him years ago in a similar setting. Matching the dancers rhythmic adavus with his crisp beats on the mirdangam that were a story on its own.

The weakest link to me was the Veena playing by Jayalakshmi Premkumar in the opening. In a very crucial part of the opening mayamalava gowla piece, she was playing off thala and that threw of the dancers briefly in that section. But she more than made up for that in the beautiful thanam she played in Saptha Tarangini. I was so engrossed in the moody thanam that, the emcees announcement came at such an unfortunate moment. Perhaps for that piece alone, they should not have the emcee reciting her script as it breaks the beautiful silence that was in that Thanam.

Though not as prominent as I would have hoped for a Kanjira sound, Kuhanathan Nanthakumar added his presence wherever was necessary in the music.

The emcee Meena Kumaree who was also the producer of the show, has been an integral voice to the introductions of Suvarna’s performances. So unless for that one moment, her voice and explanation is often a welcome addition to the production. Offering just the right amount of information prelude to each dance segment.

Saptha Dwani
The evening began with Saptha Dwani as 7 maidens appeared on the raised dias to represent the 7 swarangal (music notes) of Carnatic music. And so Shadjam, Rishabam, Gandharam, Madhyamam, Panchamam, Dhaivatham and Nishadam were artistically portrayed as the musicians sang in the raga Mayamalava gowla in adhi thalam.

And what better way to pay tribute to the 7 swaras, than to dance to Saint Thyagaraja’s SHobilu Saptaswara set to ragam Jaganmohini, Rupakam thalam.

The Thygaraja kriti is sung in praise of the 7 divine notes of music that glows to the core of the human body, shining through the vedas and holds the heart of humans and the divine celestials.  

The dancers weaved and danced to the notes of raga Jaganmohini and blazed the stage away. I especially loved when they weaved the gayathri manthra into the phrase “vara gayathri” that comes in the Charanam.

Saptha Shakti
I had read with interest that they eventually composed this piece from scratch as they weren’t able to find one song that captured what they wanted to showcase. And what a delight the song was. Set to thala misra chapu, the ragamalika started in Brindavani and travelled through raga Bibhaas, Kedar, Durga, Basant, Megh Malhar, Surya and finally ending in the electrifying verses of Revathi. On stage as the music flowed we saw 7 devis emerge on stage – Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Maahendri, Kaumari, Varahi and Chamundi.   

This was my favourite piece of the evening as I have barely seen Ajith explored the Devi theme in his dance. Ganga ma yes but I am so used to seeing him doing different versions of the Yadhava prince that this was such a delight to watch.

Each of the dancers were given an opportunity to shine as a Devi. Each doing the role they were given extremely well. But that is what Ajith seems to bring out in his dancers, a need to excel and the confidence that is needed to hold such roles.

However the moment the young dancer Haridivya Muralitharan stood on stage, it was Kaumari herself that I saw – the one who blesses her devotees with power and confidence. Three devi’s showed us their presence that night, to dance in the the dancers who took their form, and this was the first of the three moments I experienced that evening.

And then Chamundi emerges on stage as the singers electrified the room with the raga revathi. Devi Chamundi had merged within the young dancer and it was she we saw dance on stage. The goddess that is at once fearsome and compassionate and protective of her devotees. As she crossed over and leaped over the dancers, her eyes gleamed in magnetism that made you gasp in shock.

The dancer Logeshwari Durairaj was new to me as I had not seen her in the senior line up of Suvarna dancers before. I am told she and Haridivya, have both been part of the productions for many years but usually in the ensemble section.

This is what I have always loved in Suvarna’s productions. Despite being an excellent dancer who could do the whole production by himself, he has continued to include his dancers and students into every production, giving each one ample opportunity to shine, and often taking the stepping into the shadows and giving them the main spot. We will not have been able to witness such talent and divine presence if it was not for the trust and encouragement only a Guru such as Ajith could do.

Costumes in a Suvarna production is always excellent. From hair to fan to the colours of the costumes, everything is often looked into. Similarly in this piece the dancers are wearing beige costumes with red and green checker pleats. But what was visually stunning was when they turned, the back of the pleats was a bright red pleat that stood out in the excellent lighting design by KRSS. Lighting is so important in any dance performance and sometimes not given enough emphasis. So it is extremely delightful to see the light shine on its own in the different pieces. In this for example there was a lot of shadow light play to emphasise the devis. That created stunning visuals for the audience.

Saptha Rasayati
After that exquisite dramatic performance, Ajith took us on a light hearted journey of a theme I have seen in many of his productions – love and the yadhava prince. But what is interesting is that despite it being a theme at every production, no one performance or choreography has been the same.

Saptha Rasayati was set to chatusra jathi Atta talam, in the ragas Nagaswaravali, Chandrajyothi, Vasantha, Vaasanti and Reeti goula.

Ajith emerges on stage as the playful cupid and shoots his arrows into Krishna and Radha – the stage of love awakening was beautifully portrayed by Parthiben Sethu and again Logeshwari Durairaj.
Now I noticed Parthiben Sethu as an addition to the senior Suvarna dancers line up a few productions back. He is a dancer to be watched. There is a sense of innocence, genuine emotions in his expressions. And their pairing for this segment was a perfect one as both were young and were able to beautifully portray the awakening of love and what follows, the teasing period of new love – kadal udalgal.

One of the beautiful parts of the lighting was the appearance of the moon on the blue screen. It was a perfect addition as Radha and Krishna danced to the tune of the beautiful music.

This was then followed by Krishna flirting with the gopikas much to the chagrin of Radha, and then Radha erupts in anger and leaves Krishna. A remorseful Krishna searches for Radha as she recupriates and eventually forgives Krisha as their love is reawakened in their unification.

Each stage of these emotions is portrayed by different pairs of Krishna and Radha. With all 4 male dancers taking turns to play a different kind of Krishna. It was a delight to see these different stages of Krishna expertly played by the Suvarna dancers.

I loved that they included the classic Krishna tune “Chinna kannan azhaikiran” in the final verse which is set to Reethi Gowlai.

I have not written much about the senior line up of Suvarna nor on Ajiths performance simply because they have always been talented dancers and shined in each role that was given to them. As I said before, the Suvarna productions are performances I truly look forward to watching as it has always been dazzling full blown dance and music showcases.

Sapta Tarangini
The final piece of the evening was a tribute to the 7 holy rivers of India. The original composition was set as a Talamallika in the raagam Sindhubhairavi in lyrics of the 7 rivers location.

River....tala.....language
Kaveri....Dhruva...tamizh
Godavari....Madyam...telugu
Narmada...Rupakam..Hindi
Saraswathi ....Jampa..sanskrit
Yamuna.....Tripuda..braj baasha
Sindhu......Atta...Urdu
Ganga.....Eka...Hindi

Again the music composition excelled here. As I had already mentioned the opening Veena thanam set such a beautiful tone to the song. You could feel the rivers course flow through the music according to their attributes. Similarly the dance was choreographed to match the intensity of each river.

Loved how Ajith had weaved the rivers flow into the formation for Narmadha or how they referenced the invisible river Saraswathi in the choreography as there’s a lightness to the dance in this segment.

What’s interesting is I have seen Ajith do the theme of rivers before and the fact that he manages to do a totally different choreography for the theme is pretty brilliant.

Ajit does a beautiful solo in the Sindhu nadhi segment of the dance and the music at this point is absolutely stunning.

And then Ganga ma herself descends from heaven to sweep us into her embrace just as she does every devotee that chants jai ganga ma before dipping into the holy river Ganga in Varanasi. She is at once strong, yet she holds you in the flow of her waters, comforting her devotees as only the hug of a mother can.

The dance coordination and formations at this point were just superb and then Ajith took us to the next stage as he transported the audience to Varanasi for one of the most beautiful sights one will experience in Varanasi – the evening Ganga Arathi. So there I sat, once again rocking gently on a boat on the pitch dark river as the 7 dancers gently paid tribute to Ganga ma with their arathis as the bell tolled from the orchestra. What a moment that was.

And with that, the evening ended with a gasp of flashback to Varanasi that I am sure anyone who has been there would have experienced. Thank you for transporting us back for that brief moment – for the greatest achievement of a dancer or musician is the ability to make us feel or experience an emotion and that was what the evening of Sapthashree was to me.

As I’m typing this I’m sitting and wondering when will I hear the exhilarating music from that production again?

Let me ask Suvarna the same thing I asked MPO recently, could you please make it available for us to purchase the DVD of the music or production as I find it frustrating that all I have is bits and pieces of memories of these amazing shows and no way to relive them. I grew up to be a fan of the music of Queens simply by listening to music of his live shows something that the indian classical music fraternity refuses to embrace. Every single live concert I go for, there’s numerous reminders of please do not record the show but where do we go to relisten to those stunning moments that is only capable to be captured in a live show? How do we rehear these amazing original compositions and arrangements if it is not available to be heard ever again?

Either post it online or make it available for purchase.

All you have to do is post a note on the availability of the DVD to be purchased post show on Facebook and I am sure there a rasikas like me who will be clamouring to buy a copy and you will have enough orders to make copies.

This post will not be possible without the help of Meena Kumaree, who graciously took time to answer my questions and send me all the details on the production. Thank you so much for that.

 ps: photo is not mine


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