Thursday, November 13, 2008


"Unity in diversity", Nehru once said exemplifying the then 20 odd states under one nation. We have added more to the diversity side of it with 28 states and a few UTs. Recent events in Maharashtra and Bihar have only emphasized on that half of the spirit. But, again it's no fun in non-diversified India and I would definitely like it to be the way it is, minus the politics part of it.

Every state in India share a unique relationship with each of its neighboring states. The legendary being the two Souths. The TAMilians and the KannaDIGAs. Though they are collectively called as Madrasis by the CHOMs (CHOM = CHapati Oriented Menu : A collective name for North India, the CHOMland), now even the North Indians recognize the uniqueness in the two breeds of people.
Probably, even a German and a French would share better camaraderie than a TAM and a DIGA. They are like two people who can't live without the other and wouldn't stand too, for the fact that it's the same water stream that connects the two states.

So, how similar or how different are these people?

What does one say to a brown stranger he meets in Berlin?
Tam: Hi, Tamil thereemaa??
Diga: "Sind Sie Indisches??" (Are you an Indian?)

Tam: Actors turned politicians.
Diga: Politicians turned actors.

Tam: 5 yrs Karunanidhi, 5 years Jayalalitha alternating.
Diga: Hanging coalition till the opposition party buys two from ruling, and time for elections. Story remains same, parties only exchange roles.

Tam: Serve Jayalalitha/Karunanidhi for 5 years, get transferred or suspended in the next 5 years. Also cause some discomfort among public by some moral policing.
Diga: Serve every politician, serve themselves in the meantime, till the next Lokayukta raid.

Tam: Carnatic, AR Rehman.
Diga: Karnatic, Hindustani, Rock, Jazz, Western classical, bollywood to name a few.

Tam: Rajni, Kamal, future Rajnis and future Kamals.
Diga: Remake of Tam movies.

Tam and Diga: 10th grade --> IIT tutions + 12th --> IIT attempt 1 --> Med / IIT attempt 2 --> Engineering /Med --> MS in US
CHOM: 10th grade --> 12th grade --> Engineering in Bangalore --> Dad's business.

How do the guys of Tam-land refer to a girl wearing jeans?
Answer: "The girl in jeans".

How does a Diga explain the name change from Bangalore to Bengaluru?
Answer: "See, we feel our capital is a free and cosmopolitan city. The name Ban-galore did not go with the spirit. There shouldn't be anything 'Ban'ned here and the name suggested just the opposite. Then they decided to get rid of the Ban and make it "Ben". It became Bengal-ore. Then a soul in Vidhan Sabha suggested that this name is too risky and controversial and we do not want Bengalis to stake claim on every metal found in the city. So they decided to get rid of the "ore" part and make it "uru". That's how it became Bengaluru."

How do they vote?
Tam: Remembers whom he voted last time, votes for Karunanidhi if it was Jayalalita and vice versa.
Diga: Sees the names of the candidates for the first time, checks for any Gowda, Reddy, Patil, etc and votes the person belonging to his caste.

Favourite pastime:
Tam: The Hindu Crossword, watching Sivaji / Chandramukhi.
Diga: Deve Gowda bashing, talking about how IT spoiled Bangalore.

Their idea of Hollywood:
Tam: White people talking Tamil.
Diga: White people.

How do you know its a Diga in Berlin?
Answer: Ask a question in Kannada, he will answer in German.

Auto driver:
Diga: Swindles you if you dont know the place.
Tam: Swindles you.

Tam and Diga: People who fast during Kaveri water issue.

What do they do when a heroine gets overweight?
Tam: Build a temple.
Diga: Make her a police inspector.

I am sure if you ask any Tam or a Diga, he would have more to add to the list. I might as well add them sometime later. But as of now, I can only get this far.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chaand Chupa Baadal mein….

October 22nd and India is set to take a big step forward in its Space aspirations. The moon destined Chandrayaan mission was to take off at 6:20 am and my mobile phone alarmed me in the wee small hours and I got ready to witness the expected spectacle and the Hollywood NASA style celebration. I turned my TV on and all the news channels had some geeky looking old men quoting all sorts of facts and figures of astronomical proportions. That woke me up completely then. I had 5 news channels lined up and I started flipping through them and each of them had a countdown timer at a corner of the screen and ironically each of them showed different timings! Its just to say, this is when we are going to show you the launch of the mission, and I wanted to watch it live. Then came the moment and one of the channels had corrected the timer to match that of the ISRO launch center and I stayed with the channel. 30…..25….goes a guy at the launch center, and the focus shifts to the tall standing PSLV with 1300 kg payload. But the channel doesn’t help my curiosity. Bottom part of the screen is covered with flashy “Breaking News” saying “Raj Thakeray spends night in Jail”. Above that is a smaller strip with scrolling headlines, most of which was India’s victory over Australia. Left half of the remaining is our news presenter. Part of the remaining is the flashing countdown. And the “whole” of the rest, is our PSLV ready to launch. This was too much for my 21 inch machine to handle. I still stayed with it, and 10..9..8……3..2..1..0 and there it was, the blast caused by the burning of the solid propellants was visible in that small window as well. I was waiting for a spectacular sight of a rocket launching itself in and out of the atmosphere leaving behind a massive tail of the burnt fuel. But the sight was more than disappointing. The launch was successful, but 2 seconds after the man yelled “0”, the rocket vanished in the thick clouds looming large in the before sunrise sky. My eyes were wide open and the news channel took some pity and provided few extra pixels for the visual but it did not help. All I saw after this was blinking dots on the screen depicting the trajectory of the rocket and its current position and some animated depiction of what the rocket would do in the coming months.

Yeah, the Hollywood style NASA celebration did take place. Our own ISRO put India’s name in one of the 68 moon missions so far. It is not as bad considering that 62 of them came from US and USSR. Great, I watched the Chandra-yawn and went back to sleep and decided to watch Bruce Willis’ Armageddon in the evening to see a spectacular rocket launch.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ram Gopal Varma ki Spoof Proof Movies...

I can probably contest for watching all the movies that people in the sane world would regard as absurd, or simply crap. Probably filmmakers like Ram Gopal Verma might beat me for the prize, assuming that film makers watch the movies they make. Then again, this assumption has more reasons to be wrong than otherwise. After a lot of B-grade horror movies from the Ramsay brothers Bollywood is now in phase where distorted faces and heroines screaming under shower looking at a stranger in the mirror are not the essential ingredients to make a movie scary. The ultra focus on the kajal smeared eyes and the sepia toned screen with heavy reliance on the DTS, Dolby for the sound effects are now the attempts to scare people in a cinema hall. RGV and his Factroy productions have credited themselves with innumerable movies which they claim to have been made to scare people and the movie names also show the desperation to do so..
 Darna mana hai : People obliged. No one got scared.
Then RGV decides to make a sequel to this failed attempt and wants to play safe with the name and calls it
 Darna zaroori hai : No one turns up. (I did though and decided not to do what was zaroori).
But my concern is why does not RGV do what is zaroori? Stick to the "Company" of "Satya"s and "Sarkaars" to make the movies a bit "Rangeela".

I have seen some brilliant movies and also the spoofs on them. Some movie makers dont like their movies to be spoofed. But RGV goes one step ahead. He doesnt give an opportunity to anyone to make a spoof of his movies. His movies are spoofs by themselves. He is a master of making "Spoof proof" movies. I have seen hundreds of spoofs on the 1970s blockbuster sholay. But, was RGV ki Aag a remake of the original classic or the spoof of it? If its a remake then its definitely spoof-proof. Someone should watch it first to make a spoof of it. And if its not a remake then the Big B would be only person ever to work in the original as well as the spoof. 

What the Phoonk?! A little girl singing Jack and Jill in a male voice is absurd, but surely not scary. And we have RGV announce a reward of 5 lakh for watching it alone in a hall. I am sure, there is no way else he would have got a housefull show. A guy booking the entire theatre for himself. Ten such people making an attempt and he would give the prize for one. A neat business strategy to make up for the losses due to the earlier movies. 

If I remember right, the "naariyal" award for Bravery went to RGV. And thats surely is apt. If it did not, he definitely deserves it. 
RGV continues to be brave and give us more of unspoofable movies.

Friday, September 5, 2008

State syllabussaaa Central Syllabussaaa ??!

Aunt's are nosy and they beat Pinocchio at that. They know best what puts you in an awkward unanswerable position and never miss an opportunity to ask such questions. Few of their favourites,
1) "Yaav company pa nindu??" (Which is your company!! or rather which company do you work in)?
Now, this question should be easy to answer. But, when its to your Aunt it only gets tricky, as you got to be prepared for a chain of questions after that. Now if you say I work in Google, she might say "Google.comaaaaa??", "Aaah..yaa aunty". She might not get into the technical aspects of it, but if she has spent a lot of time in Bangalore she might even go as deep as Java, .Net and a few which she has heard somewhere and expects you to help her recall. If you fail, "How can you not know that??". But if you say some unknown company (even if its a multi billion dollar MNC, something that she cannot relate with a .com or a product or an advertisement), then you are in deep trouble. You say "XYZ networks Pvt Ltd", then look for an expression that reminds you of the Saas Bahu serials with the triple drum music in the background and may be sounds of thunder as well. Then "Campus nalli aaglilvaaa??(Didnt you get any in Campus recruitment?), after this no matter what you say, "My mama's son is a manager in Infosys. I will talk to him if you want. You send him your resume. It might work out". Abstain from disputing your aunt at this juncture or you get to listen to a sermon on the job security, IT boom and doom, and some newspaper quotes that she came across in Vijaya Karnataka or Times of India. But lets leave it at that.

2) "Nindu 10th standardalli yeshtu percentaguuu??", I guess Aunts wont ask this question to a married guy, may be they dont want to embarrass someone in front of their spouse. But if you are single (no matter your age), you are bound to bump into such questions. To be safe, it is advisable to say something like "Aunty I dont remember, but I think I did well". Your aunt may frown a bit, but you save yourself a hole in your self esteem. Dare a bit and say something between 75% and 90%, then "State Syllabussaaa central syllabussaaa central syllabussaaa??". If it is state then "Yaake tution hoglilvaa, PUC yaav collegenalli siktu?" In case you got a 95% plus score in your 10th standard, then aunty will tell here daughter or son "Nodu, swalpa guidance keLu, yaav books odidru, guide notes enaadru idre isko!" (Ask for his/her guidance. Get the books, guides, notes studied by him/her!). But, if it is less than 70%, your Aunt will be as silent as a Girish Kaasaravalli movie, with just a nod of the head..You really wouldnt want to see that. Lets graduate..

3) "Yen sikkaapatte smart kaaNstiddiya??" (What you are looking overly smart??"..Now, this is a very circumstanced question. Aunts are walking Shaadi.coms, BhaaratMatrimony.coms, and if you are looking for a girl/boy and you are very particular about their characters, just describe it to your Aunt. Trust me, she will find one and also see that all the astronomical entities are aligned to match the horoscopes as well. But if you are not interested then just be an award winning actor in Girish Kasaravalli movie. Stay silent. But it wont silent your aunt anyway. "Yeno, Vara aagi ready aagtiddiya..Hudugi nodon enu??" (Whaaaat, you are growing into a prospective groom, should we look for a girl??). Again if you are not interested, tell her something like "You dont worry Aunty, I will look for one myself". Dont say no or say something like "Not now..", unless you got earplugs firm and tight.

PS: I love all my Aunts!!;) 

Friday, August 29, 2008

News channels change India's religion..

India has won 3 Olympic medals and suddenly India's religion has changed. Haa?? yaa!! "Cricket is our religion and Sachin is our God" has now become "Shooting, Wrestling and Boxing are our religions and Abhinav, Sushil and Vijender are our Gods", not me but our News channels say so. I really wonder whether these channels would even be mentioning these Gods after a few months. They would end up being part of the General Knowledge books and a few quiz shows. "Who is the only Indian to win an Olympic Gold medal?"...A gawky stare at the ceiling and.."Er..hmm...Pass". Ask a kid "Who is the Captain of India?" He says "Dhoni". Wait, did I mention Cricket captain? But yeah, at the moment the Olympic medalists are the new found heroes and the most interviewed, most flashed faces in the country.

Now, Indian media has gained an unassailable reputation of creating news, instead of looking for them. Alright, I agree We, the people do not make enough news for them everyday to run a 24 hour news channel. So these channels conveniently take the liberty of subjecting the entire Indian audience to a torture which they brand news. After Vijender Kumar won the quarter final match against the pugilist from Ecuador, News channels rushed to the spot to take interviews of the guy who would then bring a 3rd medal for India.
Channel: Vijender, congratulations. (with a small box at the top right corner of the TV screen
showing some glimpses of what happened in the match)
Vij: Shukriya, I wanted to win it for country etc etc...
Channel: (OK, enough of all that crap types) Have you given a thought for modelling!!!
(Alright, Vijender definitely is a model material with the body of an athlete and the looks that would give any bollywood "star" a run of his money). (But hello, isn't he supposed to play for silver or gold yet?)..
Vij: Hmmm..Will do it if I get a I need to concentrate on boxing. (fair enough..)
Channel: Who is your fav heroine?? (Haaa?? Vij, please dont answer this..not now)
Vij: Bipasha Basu (Hmmm...not bad!)
Channel: Do you want to go on a date with her? (Oh! for God's sake..)
Vij: Sure (with shy smile)

Then few correspondents of the channel head straight to Bipasha Basu and here goes...
Channel: Vijender says you are his fav heroine and he wants to go on a date with you. (Haaa?)
Bips: Vijender?? Who? (Alriiiigght!!)
Channel: He has qualified for semis in Olympics and is assured of a bronze. (with hush hush)
Bips: Aaah..OK, I will go on a date if he wins gold. By the way what does he play??
Channel: wrestling...Aaah sorry, boxing.

Then the entire night all the news channels got a cooked up news to carry through the channel till midnight. The giant screens behind the news presenter showed Bipasha and Vijender and the audience were driven to the world of imagination where the new formed pair would have a candle light dinner with a medal flashing around vijender's neck. Media was jubilant about the medal more than the the pugilist himself. They got sports news, created gossip, a material worth 6.5 hours and all by doing nothing.

But nonetheless, India got a bit sporty this Olympics and 3 individual medals bring a glimmer of hope that the new found religions create more Gods and lets all play, (not pray)!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dasavatharam - My View

I watched Dasavatharam yesterday and here is my write-up on that. It probably would appeal to someone who has seen the movie.

Dasavatharam - My view
I can only write my View and not a Review on Dasavatharam because I dont understand Tamil/Tamizh.
And that too a multi-lingual movie like this where we got Tamil, Telugised Tamil, Anglicised Tamil, Tamilised English, Punjabised Tamil, Tamilised Punjabi, Mallu Tamil and ya, the Bush English to add to that.
They all sounded the same to me though!
Why did I watch the movie? I hardly say no to movies, and this one had 10 heroes (1 actor), 2 hero-ines(1 actress),one item-bomb and a lot of hype. How could I miss.
One thing is for sure that Tamil industry has got talent and money. Be it acting, producing, costumes, make-up, cinematography, were very impressive. But the great "Ulaga-Nayaka" (Universal Hero), Dr.Kamal Hassan hasn't given himself a good script to go with the rest of the effort, which are supreme for Indian standards.
Lets walk through the 10 roles and the supports.
1) Dr.Govind, a bio-weopen scientist working for an American Agency where every employee except the security guard speaks Tamil. The monkeys here have super-monkey brains and can key-in the passwords for high security access zones.
2) Rangaraaja Nambi, the pro-Vishnu devotee, who takes on the pro-Shiva group to protect his deity, only to get tied to the idol and thrown into the Sea. I always thought pro-Shiva king looked like Rajnikanth! But, this was my favourite part of the movie. Very well shot. Good that they chose a big idol for the scene, as Kamal's huge paunch and biceps could have made it look too small.
3) George Bush, who is more a Tamil hero than the President, with his antics on stage. But Kamal does a good job of taking Bush from Dumb, dumber to dumbest levels. I loved the expression when he is told Sodium Chloride when he asks "What's NaCl".
4) Mr.Fletcher, the "son of a Gun" guy, and ex-CIA who has got the Terminator look and also plays one. His mission for whatever reason was to feature till the end of the movie to get his hands on a small chemical weapon. He had his share of joy. Gets married to Mallika Sherawat with some near-intimate scenes. Not that they look good, but Kamal wouldn't let off the opportunity.
5) Mr.Naidu, CBI officer with Telugised Tamil , was fantastic till he took a chopper to gun down the "Son of a Gun" guy! I am sure he had some good lines to say, coz he attracted some laughs in the hall.
6) The Paatti, a strong mentally weak 100 years old granny, who for a change offers a chemical weapon to the Lord (Perumal). She is also waiting for the return of her son who died in 1954 and holds his "colour" photograph. I guess Calvin's Dad can explain this better.

Back to the "view"
7) Khali-full-ah, the giant Muslim guy with a name of contradictions. I could not figure out what his role in the movie was, apart from being accused of being a terrorist and giving way for some jokes on his height. (Bin Ladder??!!)
8) Victor Something, a Mallu, speaking Mallu Tamil who has an aandolan against the Land Mafia, puts the heroine rape scene under spotlights to save her, and finally sacrifices his life to Tsunami to save a kid.
9) Avataar Singh, a Punjabi pop star,who keeps forgetting he is a Punjabi, sings Tamil, speaks Tamil(with his Punjabi wife too). Some cancer angle to create a twist and a funny cure too! Get shot! Now, after this, Surgical Instruments will be a .35 magnum for headaches, AK-47s for kidney failure, an M24 sniper weapon for infectious diseases and a battle tank for elephantiasis .
10) The Kung-Fu master, speaks Japanese (Hey, we also got Tamilised Japanese too!!), who is set to avenge his daughter's killing and he is also the first to utter the word "Tsunami". Intelligent stuff here, as not many Indians knew the word till then and Japanese are pretty used to it.
1) Rangaraaja's wife(Asin 1) - All she got to do was to make him say "Om namah Shivay" to save her Maangalyaa, which she failed.
2) Andaal (Asin 2) - This for me, was where the movie went totally wrong. It just couldn't get off with the Andaal Perumaal scenario. I din't get the dialogues, but never liked the length of her screen presence and the tone in which she spoke. (If Kamal didn’t play 10 roles, would it be hyped as Asin's double role??? Hmmm)
3) Jasmine( Mallika Sherawat) - A pole dancer in US, whose Tamil is better than her curves. She marries the ex-CIA and becomes his translator and the partner of crime. Its not typical Mallika, as she doesnt get to show too much skin, not to her liking. For Tamil audience??

This was my "view" of Dasavatharam. Did I enjoy the movie? Yes, I did. Do I recommend to watch it? Ofcourse I do.

Friday, May 30, 2008


It was my 25th Birthday and I couldnt have chosen a better way to celebrate it.

I got a chance to visit the place whose name my family has been carrying for decades now. Kinhal, is a small village, about 12 km west of Koppal town. It belonged to Raichur district before Koppal itself was given the district status. I always had the doubt about how my surname is spelt but it was all clear when I saw the board of India Post there.

Being home for few thousands of people, Kinhal is a typical rural India with agriculture being the main source of income. But the place also is popular for its wooden toys, call it "Kinhal toys".
The artisans have inherited the art of making very beautiful wood work with intricate chiseling and magnificent coloring. Popular objects are the puranic figures such as Ganesha, Garuda, Gowri, people depicting various occupation and also animals and birds.

It was a Sunday and there was Santhe (Fair) happening in the village where typically, all the
farmers sell their produce who are otherwise with their work on other six days.It was very interesting to see people participating so eagerly in the fair, with packed street, the Brigade road of Kinhal.

Brigade road of Kinhal, the Santhe street.
My dad and my uncles were eager to show me the place where my Great Grand Dad lived. We were four, and the Great Venkatesh Achar was the common node for all four of us in the family tree.
We were very lucky to bump into Hanumesh(in pic), a lanky young man, who happened to be living just beside the point of interest. I was amazed to see that he was quick to respond, when we asked about the Great's place considering he was young and would never have seen anyone who lived there. Only later I realised that I would have got the place if I had asked anyone in that small village. People are so closely knit.

Reaching the place, I felt I have reached some archaeological site and I have to start my work of excavating the Harappan civilization!! A small piece of land with only one evidence of life, that being a neem tree! Otherwise it was all the rubbles to be likened to some World War II remains. My dad could recall some stories about the place that his dad had told him.
A strange nostalgia going back to the world of memories and imagination for him.

The context of our visit was an idea of our enterprising uncles to set up a School in Kinhal. Lack of quality education and educational institutions in all parts of India is a very common disease plaguing us ever since. Government schools don't have the focus and infrastructure to provide what the contemporary student needs. Quality private institutions don't have the intention and motivation to set up branches in rural India. The main aim is to bridge the gap. We were here to do some ground work on the requirements, availability and feasibility of setting up a School for the children of Kinhal and some places around it. The plan and the talks are in progress and will write about it at a suitable time.

Kinhal, the village: Just moving around the village, it was easy to notice some very interesting hoardings and wall writings which emphasized education and other social issues.
A strange architectural feature of that civilization was the narrow gutters running all along between two
lanes of houses seperated by a hand-shake distance.
Best moment of the visit was to see local boys jump into the well to fight the aggressive sun. Just a 10 minutes of swim in the well, the boys came out, took off their "swimming robe" dried it in few seconds and wore it again and were off for other games. What fun!!
We spent some time in the Santhe where my uncle wanted some local cucumber. This turned out to be a very eventful bargain with the cucumber vendor, an old female who startled us with her innocence and may be ignorance. In the course of the bargain, which was the best we could have being from Bangalore, we still could not lay low the habit of bargaining for a few extra cucumbers. She obliged and then, some other vendors beside her wanted their share of entertainment. They saw me wearing my Sony DSC H7 digicam, which for them might be a futuristic gadget, and began frightening the ajji that we are from press and we will bring policemen to the place. We smiled, only to soon realize that the old lady had bought the story and was so much petrified and on the verge of a breakdown, that she started filling our bag with more cucumbers and also returning our money! If a villager in India can be exploited with such small pretexts, then the bridge we are set out to build has to be longer than we can imagine.

So, that was my first visit to Kinhal and looking forward to a few more.

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