Monday, December 26, 2005

Morning Raga, An Indian Film nomination for the Oscars 2005-06

One of my favourite films of all time, Morning Raga, has been nominated for the Oscars under the best Foreign Film category.

The film is a masterpiece, blending Carnatic music (the traditional music of South India) with Western music in what I consider one of the greatest compositions I have heard. I never realized that such fusion could be good, that the words of Mark Twain would be disproved (East is East, West is West and never the twain shall meet - forgive me if those are not the exact words).

For someone who does not in general enjoy music so much like my family and friends do, the "Thaye Yashoda" song is the best song I have heard in my life.

Because I like this film so much, a short review (albeit with tinted glasses) would be helpful for those of you who are bored enough to read this blog ;)

I am not going into the story line per se, merely my thoughts. K.Raghavendra Rao, who is a well-known producer in the Telegu film industray has cast his son in the lead role. Unlike many such "star" sons, this guy has some great acting credentials, having been trained in London etc. His first Telugu film was a disaster, but he simply is superb in this film.

While Shaban Azmi is her usual brilliant self, Perizaad was a pleasant surprise. She manages to look convincing in singing carnatic, but that is not surprising, since these two North Indian ladies stayed in an authentic South Indian village and learnt the elements of Carnatic Music.

For those of you still with me, hear the song, "Thaye Yashoda" and you will know why I am raving so much about this little-known song. Its heavenly compared to the brayings that go about in the name of songs these days.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Some lesser known Cricketers I admire

We all know of the famous feats of Sachins, Kumbles, Laras and the Pontings. There are other cricketers who may not be such geniuses, but certainly are highly talented and need mention. Although there are many such cricketers, I will touch on a few ones that I really admire.

These guys are all fighters to the core, bring a sense of calm in the midst of panic and generally make me uneasy if they come into play (if they are the opposition).

Russel Arnold - Sri Lanka's biggest mistake in the ongoing series was dropping him. A match-winner himself, I have seen him turn around those matches the opposition thinks it is winning! Unfortunately he comes in at No.5, 6 or 7 and therefore doesn't have the opportunity to score hundreds. A thorn in India's side many times, I would have promoted him up the order in Tests to bat near Atapattu and Jayawardene.

Micheal Bevan - A better known batsman, Bevan makes it look easy when he is on the crease. You have the Aussies on the mat, most of the recognized batsmen are gone and they need 70-80 runs with only the tail for company. In walks Bevan and starts running like hell. You think, this guy is just content with singles and twos, what is the harm in that? Before you realise, they need just 40 runs, then 20 and then surprisingly, they have won the match! Michael Bevan, 51 not out. again, no big hundreds since he comes down late in the batting order.

Robin Singh - One of my favourite cricketers, he was given a short shrift by selectors when he was younger and came into the Indian team very late (around 30, I guess). Immediately, the fielding standards increased. This guy was throwing himself around the ball so much, you would have thought it was a 16 year old! Batting late in the order, he was responsible for giving some butterflies in the stomach to the opposition with his late charges. His short medium pace was useful when the ball was swinging, such as in England.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

India, Politics and the Culture Police

I was reading about Khushboo, Suhasini and their harassment by violent mobs and was shocked... No, I shouldn't say shocked, disgusted would be a better word, since I perfectly knew what our people are capable of.

This is not the first time someone has been victimized by the culture police and by politicians in the name of "protecting Indian Culture."

I was in my engineering when I first encountered the culture police. There was a movement afoot at the university by student groups to ban women from wearing Jeans, T-Shirts and other Western clothes, since they were indecent! Their argument was that such clothes provoked male students, distracting them (Give me a break - If you get distracted by every girl wearing a jeans, don't bother going to "America".)

I could have understood if women had protested against other women wearing such clothes, but to a man, they were all men!

These were the same guys who would drool when an "item" song came on the screen during a movie. These are the same guys who would mistreat their parents at home. These are the same guys who wear T-Shirts with obscene graffiti.

I happened to ask some of them casually, "Can you tell me the names of Ravana's sons?" (Ravana was the Rakshasa king in the Ramayana, one of the two main mythologies of India). Out of about 7, 5 couldn't even answer one name. These are the guardians of our culture (snort).

When politicians join the fray, you can think of the mess that would result. This is what has happened in Tamil Nadu. Concerned by rising HIV infections due to unprotected pre-marital sex, Khushboo happened to caution against the "unprotected" part, but failed to caution against the pre-marital part. This caused righteous (another snort) anger among our concerned citizens, who interpreted this as Khushboo asking them to have pre-marital sex!

I belong to Tamil Nadu, but don't understand the thought process that goes on there. They build a temple to Khushboo, when she was into films, knowing the nature of the film industry. But she courageously speaks about some issue of concern and suddenly, hindu culture is tarnished?

We have come to a stage where any thought that does not go well with our self-defined morality is wrong, to be stamped out. I am wondering what would be banned next. Writing blogs maybe.

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