Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Evenings have become frustratingly shorter, and trying to rush out to enjoy this pleasant stage of winter, is becoming increasingly difficult. There has been a month long celebrations going on, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Japan-Kuwait Diplomatic Relations. And this weekend they had a string of activities, and one of them was an evening of Cultural Entertainment at Souq Sharq.

We went a bit early, and the initial arrangements were in progress, stalls and hoardings being put up and the likes. Came back after a while, just in time for their Song Recital, which included a list of Japanese songs. It had a nice gentle, tinkling beat to it, lilting and soft and filled with emotions all the while, which we could somehow feel and appreciate too. Had noted down the name of one particular song, and googled, back home. And now hooked to the song. It is Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakomoto and its lovely.

Had to leave with a heavy heart, as we couldn't do justice to the alluring dumplings which were up for sale. Many were dressed in their traditional attire, as there was to be a Parade later in the evening. It was amazing to see them sport the wooden footwear with complete ease.  It was an interesting day out, where we stepped into the Land of the Rising Sun, for a brief while, and realised that people seem different but are basically the same, bound by similar pleasures and travails of life, across the globe.

Following a sudden urge, went on to watch Mayakkam Enna ( 'why in a trance', or so I think!). As the reviews trickled in, of it being a good watch, couldn't resist the lure, especially the name! Well, the first half was pretty good. The second half was a mishmash of melodrama, morals, punch dialogue all thrown in for good measure. But still, my verdict would be, not bad. Though from the comments emanating from the co-watchers in the sparsely filled cinema hall, could gauge that it didn't go all that well with many. 

The high point of the movie would be, good acting. The heroine is a treat to watch. Richa Gangopadhyay, has traces of Meena and Revathi, both Tamil yesteryear actresses; a fine actress she could turn out to be, if she wants to be one, I think. Going form her recent history, hasn't done any serious movies, and I wonder why. Dhanush is his usual assured self, as an actor. A subdued potrayal of a 'genius', who goes through the trauma of being unrecognized and later on being a victim of plagiarism (not sure if it can be called that). 

Yes, many scenes especially the love triangle scenarios were contrived and wanting in finesse. Dialogues cliched and stereotyped in places, and had a suspicion that there seemed to be mild traces of 'A beautiful Mind' all over. But, kudos to the director and his crew, for coming up with a movie which is sensitive (in most parts), poetic and deep, without giving into the predictable-assured success-masala formula, again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why this..?!

Not being sure as what was to be, the subject of the post, gladly fell back on the good old comfort commodity, music. Just a mention of few songs which I get to hear and enjoy.

The recent kolaveri wave should set the tempo I guess. So for those of you (the very few) who haven’t got to watch this sensational hit, sweeping all over like a huge tsunami, in a matter of days, after hitting the you tube, here goes.

Defies all logic as to how it has managed to cut across such a wide audience. They seem to be lapping it up, but why?!  The lovelorn, drawling soulful tone of a simpleton, which evokes sympathy or a touches a string somewhere inside, or is it just plain bad English (if you can call it that), that amuses and appeals to all. Whatever the reason, Anirudh’s world is never going to be the same again, the unbelievably boyish 21yr old music director!

Adele has been around for a while now, and her songs remind me of those of Tracy Chapman and Sinead O'Connor (nothing compares to you), years back, maybe early 90s. Where its a very direct communication between the singer and the one who listens, with minimum intervention by way of music or irrelevant sounds. Come to think of it maybe Dhanush’s song also does that! Like this one from Adele.

With dish connection been taken off for some months now, the biggest loss has been that I don’t get to hear my regular dose of hindi songs. Miss that. Got to hear the Afreen song and found it not bad. Yet to hear it more. Seems Salim Merchant is very much in the fray these days. The Iktara song has been keeping me company for a long while besides the ZNMD ones. Actually wouldn't mind having some suggestions, regarding the latest hummable Hindi songs! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Scarlet Letter

Had been away from Classics for a while, so picked up this one, knowing for sure it will keep me good company in the days to come. But didn't anticipate such a long run; took me almost whole of 5 months to actually finish it. Ofcourse the vacation intervened, but still, it wasn’t as if I couldn’t read then.

Had conflicting reviews when I mentioned to friends about the book, as I was reading it, and most of them not very flattering. So knew I was not in for a veritable treat. But told myself I wouldnt give it  up, but find out for myself what left the slight distaste, and discover why it had a scandalish hood all over it, over the ages.

Well, the book  has been universally certified as ‘morbidly intense’, and so was it. It has flashes of good prose, where you find yourself glide into the dark corridors of the churches and walk down the streets of an old England puritan village, led by the elaborate description of Nathaniel Hawthorne. But, at times the writing tends to become tedious and excessively overpowering, that to ease oneself from its grip becomes an effort.

The story is about Hester Prynne, who is made to carry the burden, wearing a scarlet red, embroidered hologram, on her dress, everyday of her life, as redemption for an act of adultery committed. It screams out to the world the debauchery she allowed herself to be immersed in, symbolically and is meant to put her to abject shame and misery. Two other central characters, being Rev.Arthur Dimmesdale who goes through a phase of self-afflicted torment, ridden by guilt and shame; and Roger Chillingworth, who ironically posseses some chilling attributes, which enables him to be the diabolic co-tormentor of the former.

Issues as adultery, sin, shame, guilt and redemption are handled with elaborate justifications and its ramifications, as observed in  the puritan era, but they comes across as too severe and  melodramatic. The reader is all along made to sympathise with Hester Prynne, the author trying hard to convince that she or the act was never ever a heinous crime. So what was the whole book about, one is left to wonder. It is an attempt to portray an era, a section sliced from the past, and elaborate on the lives, morals and values, people preached and in most instances practised too, I would think.

Back to our home ground, going through Rajaji’s adaptation of the Mahabharatha, and completely overwhelmed by the number of characters and anecdotes woven and all tied up together so well, and of which many of us (I think/assume) are not very familiar with. The main plot and characters remain to a certain extent clear in memory, but there is so much more to it. What a tremendous script!

It rained. It is tantamount to occurrence of hailstorms in India. So in for some showers, which would play hide and seek this November. Aren't we glad!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter is here...

The Eid Holidays here isn't over yet. It’s a long nine-day vacation sorts, and the holiday mood still prevails. But it tends to turn routine all topsy-turvy that getting back to the grind or the rut takes a while, and the process being a bit painful too. The longer the break, greater is the pain, as simple as that.

The climate has undergone a radical change. I would think winter is officially here, and no complaints as of now. It’s lovely during the day, and pretty chill during the breezy evenings and nights. Just right for mid-day picnics, followed up by evening walks with a light sweater or shawl thrown around. We did get to do it a couple of times, and the experience was totally refreshing and energising, as it always is, when you step out to embrace nature and her bounties.

The Marina Beach was a crowded affair, with hordes of picnickers, and we had to weave our way through. But it was enjoyable nevertheless, watching people of all ages and sizes and races, languishing in the spirit of the season.  The slight nip in the air towards the evening made us scurry for warmth, away from the chill breeze making its way from the seas. The tea, which was a mistake in the first place, (got swayed by memories of apna masala chai on wintry evenings) didn't do much by way of being a warm milky yucky concoction. The hot frothy cappucinno would've definitely been a better bet.

Anyways, headed towards Salmiya to make amends, and the Pani puri and Sev puri didn't let us down and the hot jalebi, was a not bad last minute addition. An impromptu visit to a friend’s place was a pleasant surprise, as they had puja (Ekadashi), and being a part of it,  somehow was gratifying. Well, it was good to be amidst friends, even if it be for a short while, and once in a while.

The trip to Scientific Centre along the Persian Gulf coast was a totally different experience. Less crowd, and more spaced out. Was peaceful and serene, even as we sat talking,  the waves lashing against the moistened glistening rocks and pebbles.

Was mesmerising to watch the twilight descend in all its splendour, transforming the skyline with a surreal crimson and purple haze.

A long lazy stroll in the walkway, with the sea breeze for company, the rendezvous with close friends was a blessing, a memory to treasure and reminisce later in life!

Closing with a song that has been added to my playlist and played frequently!