Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Raavanan... is Manirathnam happy with this movie?

I had been waiting to see this Tamil movie 'Raavanan' (Wiki link) of Manirathnam for a long long time now! I had read so many tidbits about the movie before its release. When my niece came home during her semester holidays, we planned and went to two movies without much gap in-between, which is very rare, for me. I am not a movie buff! The other movie was 'Rajneeti' (I don't feel like writing a review for this movie!). Here, I am not going to mention the story much, it is in the Wiki link.

The movie starts, with Vikram jumping down from a cliff into deep water, head down. The scenery is beautiful. He swims like a wild animal and kidnaps Aishwarya. Then the storyline slows down. We had known that story of the movie resembled the Ramayana. Vikram acts as Raavana, here, a modern Robinhood-like character. He has done his job very well. But reminds a lot of his role in 'Anniyan' (dubbed in Hindi as Aparichit), when he is shown with dirt and anger on his face and like Sethu, when he blabbers 'bakbakbak', like a madman. Aishwarya is the Seetha in this modern Ramayana! Ram is Prithviraj, quite a good actor, who did very well in 'Mozhi'. He acts like an 'encounter specialist' who is after Raavana who kidnapped his pretty wife Seetha!

The best part of the film is cinematography which is done by Santhosh Sivan and Manikandan. The story is very weak. It is as if some clippings are joined together without any proper thread. Maybe they think that we know the story of Ramayana and we will understand!

Aishwarya, doesn't show any emotion. It takes a long time for us to register that she had started loving Vikram after she knew why he had kidnapped her! She just utters 'bakbakbak' in a weak tone, to express her softness towards him! They show her falling from the cliff, head down and hanging on a branch of a tree and walking back on rocks...she must have done some hard work, here.

Even Vikram's story about how his sister was gang-raped by policemen, doesn't make us feel sorry for him...some drawback here too. All these things are shown in short clippings! The storyline doesn't flow smoothly. In-between, suddenly Vikram acts like a madman and shouts 'bakbakbak' or 'dandandan'...we have to assume he is half mad! His role could have been shown as a strong leader who wants to avenge the police who were killing his people, raping their women, unnecessarily, without proper reason.

Here, the character of Ram is not shown as a good man! He uses everyone, even his wife, to kill Raavana!

The camera work is very good. Stunt shows are amazing, esp. the last rope bridge fight. Most of the shooting was done in the forest areas of Kerala, Ooty, Maharashtra etc., it seems. The dance sequence under actor/dancer Shobana's choreography, to A.R. Rahman's beautiful music is quite memorable. Very normal dialogues by Suhasini Manirathnam, doesn't add life to the movie.

During the intermission break, we were asking each other, if anyone understood the story? The last half hour had SOME story!

Photo courtesy: Google

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ulagath Tamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu (World Classical Tamil Conference) - Will it help to revive Tamil language?

This is A.R. Rehman' theme song for the Ulagath Thamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu, which is to be conducted/celebrated by our Government from 23rd to 27th of this month (June '10) in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. The lyrics for this song was written by our Chief Minister, Karunanidhi. Direction is by Goutham Menon. Here is the song:

A.R. Rehman is a great music director. I love his 'Vande Mataram' song. It is so nice to the ears. I heard this song for Tamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu 4-5 times. Only a couple of lines in the beginning of the song, has registered in my mind. Everything else is just loud noise. Karunanidhi is a great writer, his lyrics are not heard at all. Direction by Goutham Menon is not up to the mark either. Many singers are used for each and every line, but we are not able to recognise their voices in the medley, except for a few voices!

Although Tamil and a few other languages such as Greek, Latin and Sanskrit enjoy the status of classical language in the academic world thanks to their antiquity and rich literary heritage, Tamil is the first living language to be given the official status of a classical language. (the Hindu article)

As mentioned above, Tamil is a very ancient language. It seems to be dying slowly. Tamil scholars like Karunanidhi are trying to revive this language, but is this enough? We might think that he is conducting this conference for political gain, but he is a true Tamil lover. Even our ex-CM Jayalalitha is good in this language. But they are not able to improve this language, esp. the 'spoken Tamil', in any way.

Until a few years ago, the spoken Tamil language was not this bad to the ears. Now, even the accent of the educated people while speaking this language is becoming bad to worse. Yes, now English is influencing everywhere. But I don't see this much deterioration in other regional languages, in pronunciation. Whether it is political meeting or other conferences, or interviews, people are confused whether to use pure Tamil or colloquial Tamil. Even writer Sujatha, actor Kamal Haasan, who are good Tamil writers, while giving interviews, get confused which form of Tamil to use. I don't see this problem in Hindi or Kannada or anyother language.

தமிழ் - this is Tamizh, which is the correct way to pronounce, Tamil. But most of the people use this 'l' instead of 'zh'! அவள் becomes அவல். In Tamil language, like in Marathi, there is difference between two 'la's, like here: ' सकाळी ' and here: 'ठेवला'. The original Tamil language is so nice to hear, but now, whenever I hear people speaking this 'gal gal' Tamil, I get so upset and angry. This has invaded the Tamil writing also in sign boards. Earlier only illiterate people were not able to speak good Tamil. Now, I hear, lawyers, doctors even Tamil teachers, using this Tamil.

I just hope these leaders will take steps to revive good Tamil...first they should train their party cadres to speak good Tamil in political meetings, then give their attention to schools.

Destination Infinity
has done a post on this subject with some beautiful photos of the World Classical Tamil Conference venue.

Many national leaders and international leaders, including our President, are attending this conference. A huge amount of tax payers' money is being spent on this conference ...Coimbatore roads are re-layed (even the good ones!), the bus terminal is renovated to international standards!

Let us hope that our language will revive its past glory.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

If you haven't seen this yet, it will move you to tears, like it did with me !!

My niece sent this beautiful video yesterday! After watching this, it took some time for me to stop the flowing of tears from my eyes! I always admire the soldiers and their families...of any country!

This video reminded me of the day my younger son gave us a surprise visit after some years of studying abroad. He just barged in with a suitcase in his hand, dropped it down and started eating from his appa's plate...we were having our lunch when he came home! We were just watching him with tears in our eyes!

I loved the way the video showed the expressions of both the soldiers and their dear ones! The best part of the video is the way the dog showing its love to his master and the way the master enjoying it, sitting down on the ground! I can still hear the happy squeaking sound of the dog!

Edited to add this quote from Kavita's comment today (13.06.10), which is very apt, here:

"Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He's the chap who makes it possible for the civilized folk to despise the war".

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The future of our children lies in the hands of 'this' type of irresponsible teachers.

I read this news about an intermediate student who got 'zero' (do they give 'zero' mark to anyone nowadays?) in the exam, got 75% after he applied for re-valuation!

The Deccan Chronicle says:

An Intermediate student who was shocked at getting ‘zero’ marks in the exam was wonder struck at seeing it climb to 75 when he applied for re-verification.

Likewise, a student who got 59 marks in math had been given nine marks by the evaluators. This startling ‘counting error’ also came out during re-verification.

Variation of one to five marks is common during re-verification,” said Mr G. Balaramaiah, secretary of the Board of Intermediate Education. “But this time, we have noticed huge variation in some cases. We will initiate stern action against the evaluators responsible for this.” The BIE has found serious evaluation errors in the case of 4,000 of the total 20,000 applicants who sought re-verification.

The gross negligence of evaluators would have marred the career of thousands of students in the wake of 25 per cent weight given for Intermediate marks while determining the rank in Eamcet. BIE top brass have decided to issue notices to about 1,500 lecturers who committed mistakes during evaluation and to impose a penalty ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 on them. They will also be barred from evaluation duties for three years. The BIE is also planning to lodge criminal cases against negligent evaluators in cases where the variation of marks was ‘abnormal’.

The Hindu has got more to say on the 'zero' mark to 75 marks case:

With the startling variation of marks coming to light, the Board of Intermediate authorities are planning to initiate stringent action against the evaluator – a lecturer of a private college in Kadapa district.

Stranger is the explanation of the lecturer that he had awarded zero marks “as he could not understand the answers written in English”, authorities disclosed.

Considering the fallout of such an irresponsible action on the future of the student, the Board secretary, G. Balaramaiah, said a criminal case would be registered against the lecturer, whom he refused to identify.

“We have also asked the college management to remove him from service and a penalty fee would also be claimed from him,” he declared at a press conference here on Monday.

In some cases, some answers are not evaluated at all; some answers evaluated but marks not given; in some cases, evaluation is done, marks given, but not added to the total. In the last category, the evaluator simply strikes down the answer and awards ‘zero' marks.

This news hurt me more because I know a student, who had faced this type of blow in his Plus II marks.

This boy had been a top scorer in his classes throughout and got 100% in maths in 10th standard. When he came out of the examination hall, he told his parents, friends and teachers that he was sure of getting 98% (Maths exam). That year, the maths paper was long and many students could not complete answering the paper. This problem went upto the Parliament and they decided to add 5 or 10% (I don't remember correctly) as grace marks for the particular paper. After all this, the boy got 56%! He was planning to write IIT entrance, but he could not do so. He stayed at home for one year and the parents thought that he would try the IIT, the coming year. Instead, he wrote SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and got 99 percentile (top score in India), got admission in a top Engineering University abroad with 94% scholarship.

This is one example of why the cream of our intelligent children hate to settle down here, in our country. Sincerity is not visible anywhere, even in our education system, where the future of our children is decided.

The teacher who just got bored to correct the paper and gave 'zero' marks to the student must be having children of his own.

We are taught to treat teachers as god from our childhood - 'Maatru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Aacharya devo bhava'. My own family has got devoted teachers but the teacher from Kadappa, is a shame on the whole clan of good teachers.

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