Monday, February 25, 2013

I Had Walked Up These Steps...At Kodak Theatre!

Kodak theatre...Dolby theatre where the Annual Oscar award ceremony is held!

I watched the Oscar Award ceremony today morning for sometime, in the TV.  I remembered visiting this place with my son in 2008.  Until a few years before that, I had never dreamed of walking the streets of Hollywood! I have not yet visited our Bollywood streets or even Bombay here, in our own country! Must visit one day to watch Aamir's shooting! Both of us, I and my husband were going through the old album of our visit to this place now!  Thought of sharing some pictures of the Kodak Theatre! Kodak Theatre is called as  Dolby theatre too! Read more about this in the highlighted links, please!

The above picture was from wikipedia, thanks to them! All the other pictures were taken by me! I wrote the comments while uploading the pictures to Picasa.  I am copy pasting them.  It is nice to read them now...we had forgotten most of the details of the pictures! So, I learnt a new lesson now...we should jot down the captions as soon as we upload pictures!

We went up the stairs to the theatre entrance. Some 10-12 screens are there, showing movies. Other stories in this building are full of shops and restaurants!

This is the entrance to the Kodak theatre, which is very familiar. The stars walk to the function of the award ceremony via these stairs. I too walked up the stairs on that day!
This is the close up of the Kodak theatre, where the Annual Oscar award ceremony takes place.

Oscar winners through the years. This is near the entrance of the Kodak theatre.

The pictures which are featured below were on the pavements in front of the Kodak Theatre.  The imprints/foot and hand prints of famous singers and film personalities along with the famous Mohammad Ali's...I wonder how he got the honoured place...yes, he was a great man indeed, but not in filmdom!

The Hall of fame. We saw this star on the platform along with the names of famous film stars! This is my favourite singer, Phil Collins.

This is the star of stars, Donald Duck.

Shoe and hand prints of Warren Beatty, 1/98!

This is the shoe and hand prints of Humphrey Bogart, 7th Aug. '46.  Sidney - Sid, was the founder of the Kodak Theatre. Did you notice the writing? 'Sid, May you never die till I kill you!'

Hand and shoe prints of Gregory Peck - Year 1944, 15th Dec.

Hand and boot prints of Cecil B.Demille - Hollywood director - year 1941, Aug. 7th.

The name of all the other stars were on the pavement. But Mohammad Ali's was on the side wall of the theatre! Great! I don't see the date, though!

After visiting this place, we walked/drove through the Sunset Boulevard, where the famous stars of Hollywood lived/live!

Yes, we had an unforgettable experience and I relived it now, while preparing this post! I have not seen any movies which won the Oscars, this year, 2013.  I am happy that 'Life of Pi' won 4 Oscars! I would have been happier if Bombay Jayashree had won an Oscar for her song in the film!

Have you seen any of the movie which won Oscar this year?


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Interesting Trip To Rameshwaram And Dhanushkodi - I


Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram

We had been planning to visit Rameshwaram for a long time. We had been to this place, some 22 years back for doing kriyas for my father, when he expired.  It is said that if we do kriyas for our ancestors (pithru) here, their soul (atma) will reach the heaven without much difficulty.  Even if we do some mistakes while performing the kriyas here, since this is a holy place, it will not be considered as a mistake.  We call it vibrations now. Since so many people pray, not only in this place, but in all the major pilgrim centres, they become holy places with lot of good vibrations.  Pithru kriyas are performed mostly in 'Sangamam' places where two or three water bodies join together (sangamam means joining together).  E.g. Triveni Sangamam.  In the recent 'Kumbh Mela' held at Allahabad, people did kriyas on the banks of the river. Rameshwaram is situated on the Bay of Bengal sea shore.

9th Feb.'13 and 10th Feb.'13, were very important days for taking a dip in the sangamams.  Kumbh Mela is very famous and this year it was Maha Kumbh Mela which comes once in 12 years.  9th Feb. was New moon day of the Tamil month Thai (Thai amaavasai and Maagh Amaavasya in Hindi, I think) which is a  very auspicious day for Hindus.  People come from all over India, to take a dip at the Rameshwaram beach - Bay of Bengal if they don't go to the other sangamams. They do tharpana (offerings/a ritual for the ancestors) on the beach.

People come from everywhere to take a dip here on the New moon day of Tamil month Thai.

We were asked to do Thila Homa - a havan for our ancestors in this place and we planned to do it on 11th Feb. because we thought the place would be too crowded on 9th.  Some relatives asked us to go there on the 9th and take a dip in the sea because it is auspicious.  We always run away from crowds.  But when we reached the place on 10th, our priest (shastrigal) said that Amaavasya was there till 9 a.m.! So we went and had a dip in the sea.  The place was crowded and the water was dirty.  We were asked to go into the temple to have the '22 well bath ritual' (theertha snaan)! I couldn't think of standing in the long queue dripping with dirty water...we went on the next morning. Later in the day, we went to other temples which were in the Rameshwaram island.  I am not writing about the location or other details of this place.  The highlighted links of wikipedia explains them very well.  Let me write about the other temples later.  I will write what we did here, at Rameshwaram first.

My brother in law had arranged for a good priest from Chennai itself.  He asked us to take samudra snaan again, the next day morning and then we had the 22 holy well/theertha bath.  The sea water had cleared and we happily dipped in the water.  This side of the sea did not have much waves.  So we were not scared. The purohit had arranged for a person to guide us to the temple.  He came with us with a small bucket with a rope.  He stood on the wall of the well, dipped the bucket into the well and poured one bucket of water each, on our heads.  Then we went to the next theertha/well.  All the wells are situated inside the praahaara (compound) of the temple. We had to visit one by one. The link in the earlier paragraph explains about the links.  The water was slightly, very slightly, salty.  The temperature varied from well to well...taste also! The water in the wells was within 5-6 feet.  So it was easy for the guide to pull water from the well.  Only 17 wells were being used now.  They were changing the tiles in other wells.  We brought home 'kodi thertham', which will be added to our bath on 'Maasi magham', which is also is an auspicious day. It comes sometimes next week.

One of the 22 theerthams/holy wells, where we were asked to take bath.

Then we went to the house of the priest, where the Thila Homa was performed.  The link explains why it is done and how it is done!  My husband's elder brother had an unnatural death, some 30 years back. He was not married.  So we were asked to do this homa/havan.  A steel plate with a human impression was placed/stuck in a banana.  One more for my husband's younger brother who died at the age of 35, by brain hemorrhage, was placed in another banana.  Two more were placed for all the male and female ancestors of our family.  Ganapathy pooja was done first.  Then a havan was performed (30000 aavruththis with mantra).  Til/sesame seeds and paddy were used for this (they were thrown into the havan flames).  After this, pinda pradhana (Balls of cooked rice are offered to the ancestors) was done. Pinda pradhaana was for 3 generations of my husband and one for 'Ajnaatha pithru' i.e. for the ancestors unknown to us. The rice balls were kept on the terrace for the crows to eat. Hindus believe that the ancestors come and eat the rice in the form of crows.  Then, we were asked to keep the Steel plates (2 by 1" plates) with the impression of humans in the bananas in a brass plate.  A jeep was arranged for us to go to Dhanushkodi with the plate and a brass pot with water for which some pooja was performed before the havan.  I think I should have jotted down the names of the poojas. I will write about our Dhanushkodi trip in the next part.

The queue outside the Rameshwaram temple for taking the 22 well/theertha snaan. The crowd dispersed in the evening of 10th Feb.'13.  Amaavasya snaan was over!

Like most of the pilgrimage centres in India, this place also is not clean.  Hotels are OK.  We stayed at Hotel Saravana (it was clean and the service was good. Our priest had booked the rooms for us) from where I took the above picture.  We had our food at Krishna hotel which was just nearby.  The Rameshwaram railway station was stinking. Many people were sleeping on the platform with small kids. It was very difficult to walk on the platform.  Our priest told us that most of the pilgrims to Rameshwaram are North, North Indians means, people excluding, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu people! We saw some foreigners also dipping in the sea. Like other people, we too gave our wet clothes to poor people.  We saw many of them waiting with huge bundles of clothes in their hands at the entrance to the beach and entrance to the hotels! 

Now, to some pictures I took from our hotel window and terrace.  The Bay of Bengal  looks beautiful from here! I could see so many colourful fishing boats.

I didn't take the camera to the beach, where we took bath or inside the temple.  So, the first two pictures are from wikipedia and google. 

Let me write more about the Rameshwaram temple and Dhanushkodi, which I liked most, in the next part.

P.S. The priest had arranged the rooms for us.  A taxi came to pick us up from the Rameshwaram railway station.  Then he had arranged for the guide too.  The jeep which took us to Dhanushkodi also was arranged by him.  The havan was performed with 12 brahmins and it was done very well.  We had lunch at his house and he packed idlys for our dinner in the train also.  He patiently  explained about most of the matras/rituals.  So, it was not boring/mechanical work for us.

If anyone needs his contact no., here it is: Sundara Shastrigal, Cell no. 9443321641

Edited to add on 18th Aug.'15: Came across this post now, with beautiful photographs of Rameshwaram! Have a look!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kadal... Manirathnam's Movie...


Manirathnam, movie 'Kadal' had been featuring in many magazines before its release.  Very rarely we go to a movie so early after its release.  This movie is playing in a nearby theatre, a good theatre (Old Thyagaraja, now into Sathyam theatres group) and so I went with my relatives, yesterday.

The first scene itself shocked me...I felt as if I was watching an English movie!

Old Tamil Actor Karthik's son, Gautham,  is playing the lead role of Thomas, a prostitute's son, living in a fishermen's hamlet.  The next scene of the fish market is very natural.  Their, fishermen's can learn some swear words in Tamil(!) and the expectation of a good movie develops. No, not because of the swear words but because of the natural acting of the fishermen characters! You can see these characters near Thiruvanmiyur beach, which is just a few kilometres from our area!  Then the priest Arvindswamy enters...and the expectations develop still more! Then the story begins.  The story is mainly about the rivalry between Arvindswamy  (Sam, the priest) and his childhood friend, Arjun (Berchmans, the villain).  The character of Thomas  gives a bit different angle to this story.  His rogue-like character changes the routine for some extent.  Then comes the heroine (!) of the film, Beatrice,  which is played by the old Tamil actor Radha's daughter Tulasi.  Because of some childhood trauma she gets upset often and Thomas is trying to help her.  Now, let me not write 'spoilers'!

The best things in the movie is, Arvindsway...his acting is very good. He has come back to acting after 12 years!

Arjun, is a good actor and plays the negative role very well.

Gautham, has done a good job.  He was trained in an acting workshop before the shooting for  this movie it seems, along with Tulasi.

Tulasi, hasn't got much scope for acting...a plump 16 year old girl!

THE AREA I liked the most in this movie is Rajiv Menon's Cinematography! I thought I was watching an English movie.  The climax scene in the sea is THE best.  I can still visualise it today.  Beautiful! Tsunami waves were used in this scene, it seems.

The dialogue by Jeyamohan is good.

A.R. Rahman's music is good.  I loved 3 songs.  Vairamuththu and his son's lyrics are very good. Others, OK!

The weak part is the STORY! Nothing is new there.  No Manirathnam's touch except in a few scenes.

Next weak part is, the fishermen's coloquial language. Though I know Madras Tamil very well, I was not able to follow their language in many parts.  Too fast for us to decipher!  And A.R. Rahman's background music didn't help  us to understand the was a bit loud!

The whole movie is based on Christian Fisher folks.  So, the Christian community has lifted the flag of protest now (link here).  Already the bad precedent of banning 'Vishwaroopam'  because of the Muslim protest, is hovering, though it is cleared now with major cuts! Manirathnam is lucky, the movie is already released. The last scene of the Christian festival is new to me and looked nice.

Now, here are some songs from the movie:

This is a good song sung by Rahman himself.  You can have a taste of the movie here.  I couldn't get the whole song.  Notice the picturization.  Beautiful.

I liked this song first in MTV unplugged prog.  Have a look at the song by the creator Rahman and singer,  Shaktisree (lovely voice). You don't need to know the language.  The song is a background song in the movie, though.  So, we were not able to enjoy it there.  The tune is very good to the ears:

Lyrics by Vairamuththu in this song is good. Rahman's tune is perfect for the mood.

This is one more trailer of the movie:

Well...the verdict is, you can watch this movie once, if you know Tamil very well! Or watch it once for the beautiful climax scene!

Poster courtesy: Google

Friday, February 1, 2013

Foto Friday!


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