Thursday, October 28, 2010

If only

Like any other software affected engineer, he would have been coding and testing, complaining loudly about the stupid process that many of us follow, just for the sake or to blindfold the process audit team. If I listen carefully, I can hear the very words he would have been telling about all that did not make any sense. I never pictured him sitting in front of a computer for a job, but he was definitely more than capable to excel in it. Who knows? Maybe he would have ended up in a core company (mechanical engineering based). Yeah. He would have been perfect in one of those heavy-weight industries working on huge machines, not worrying about what attire he wore or how to for-the-sake impress his supervisor, but sincerely concentrate on what was his duty.

If he was in Chennai, which is typical him (can't imagine him anywhere else), Santosh and me would not only be picking the other up for the regular night shows, instead we'd be on two bikes with him as the pillion rider with one of us. We would have been laughing at his gimmicks and unbiased criticism about the over made scenes in a bad movie. In fact I can for sure say that he'd have been Santosh's roommate and it would have been fun going over to their place and listen to them pull each other's legs. How different it would have been for so many people? It pains that I could only write about this an it would never ever happen. Rajeesh succumbed to blood cancer, the same day, five years ago.

I knew him only like any other classmate. He used to wear a big streak of sandal on his forehead everyday. He was this typical mallu boy, which was marked clearly in his Tamil accent. We were all just a set of nine-year olds who knew nothing much, other than to fight for silly reasons and not even remember any of it the next moment. I have fought with him so many times (actually I've fought with everyone as part of being the jerk of jerks), but there was no much connection with him, at least not any that comes to my mind. We used to go to the same Hindi Tuition in 6th standard and we used to play cricket at his house if we could squeeze in time before/after the tuition. I used to really scared to enter his house because of his dog.

Towards the later half of our 10th standard a set of our classmates used to play cricket everyday in a ground near his house. It used to be fun teasing him and have him tease me back for not being able to catch the ball even if it was thrown straight at me (the Chennai 28 Premji Amaran type). Thats when I got to know the proper him. To say that he was God-fearing is an understatement. Anyone who has spent little time with him would have noticed him praying then and there. I don't think he has even hurt a mosquito in his life. We were getting along really well and as fate had it, he was denied admission in our school for eleventh grade. A stupid mistake made by some office staff lost him his admission even though he had gotten enough marks to get in. The worst part is that the school staff blamed him of submitting the application late, which was a bloody lie. He had to go to another school and we lost touch again.

We are meant to cross paths with some people no matter what. I was so happy to hear that he got into Amrita, but he was in mechanical department. He was not the regular college student type. He was different and everyone knew it. People including me used to tease him in and out for each and everything but he was such a sport. Well, he knew me well enough to hit back at me and shut my mouth. A year passed by and we had so much fun with visits to ARC Pani Puri Stall after getting down from the college bus, couple of movies and the hilarious best of all, the combined studies. He used to teach me Engineering Mechanics without which I'd have flunked in the first semester only. But, it took one more semester to bring out the true potential in me. I flunked Electrical Engineering. It was horrible. No complaints. I did not learn crap. However, the 3 Idiots formula of "If your friend fails you feel bad, but if he passes you feel worse", worked well with me. All those I thought would fail with me had gotten through and a shattered me went home. I was waiting for my dad to go out so that I could burst into tears and cry and thats when I got his call.

"Sollu da. Evalo GPA?", I asked him. ("Tell me. Whats your GPA?")
He burst into laughter and said, "Maths and Electrical pochu da". (Flunked in Maths and Electrical).

My happiness knew no bounds. For a second, my dad thought someone had called me and said that I hadn't failed the paper. I hung up and went straight to meet him. The next month was actually the best of all times I got to spend with him. We learnt together and cleared the backlogs in the supplementary exams. Third semester classes began and on the third day we got the results of the supplementary and I went to the mechanical block and celebrated with him that evening.

Little did both of us know that it was his last day in college. He fell sick that weekend and got admitted to the hospital one week later. The next I saw him at his house, it was the Rajeesh I knew wouldn't laugh aloud or tease me for he lay motionless totally not bothered about the people crying beside him. That is the first time since I have known him that he did not empathize the people crying around him. Its been five years now, which does not matter because his memories would never fade, for anyone who have known him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stupid Sam - Not so SOFTware learnings!

PS: Stupid Sam is an imaginary character. I'll come up with the character description when I like it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Idho Yen Endhiran (Review)

It was 10:40 pm on Monday and commotion burst out at Devi Cineplex, in front of the two-wheeler parking lot. The noise of the bikes honking spread everywhere in and around the theater complex. The security guards were running haywire to make the people understand that the parking lot was still full from the previous show, but in vain. The honking continued till the parking lot was finally opened up, couple of minutes before the 10:45 pm show. If it was a group of bikers belonging to the late teenage or the mid-twenties, you would probably not guess the movie they were waiting for. But when every single person from the youngsters to the ladies to the grey haired folks join together in the act, you are looking at a crowd waiting to see a movie of none other than the SUPERSTAR.

Back in late 2007, when Endhiran started doing rounds as Shankar's Robot with Shahrukh, the excitement crawled in. But, that was a different time, when I was in college and movies mattered more. I have come through many stages since then, carrying along the Endhiran excitement all along and its been three years. Phew! The superstar magic speaks for itself, doesn't it? Well, for me, its more about the combo! Shankar has been my all time favourite and A.R.Rahman, I don't even have to give it a mention. All the favoritism and the 3 year long wait is more than enough for me to say, "I loved the movie". Not enough? Then, go on.

I have seen the movie twice already, but the first time didn't count because I've been waiting for this for so long that I was just present at the theater cheering and yelling along, my eyes and ears open but senses completely shut in shock. When I came out of the theater, it was like having woken up from a dream, which attributes to the last 25 minutes of the movie. I sat down to write a review, but I could not think about anything. I had missed something, actually everything. I needed a second watch and it happened soon enough. :)

The Rajini Factor
Calling Endhiran a complete Rajini phenomenon is totally unjust. Rajini does not have a power-packed entry or an introduction song or he doesn't get rich in one song or doesn't deliver punch lines. To add to all this, Rajini runs for his life from Kalabhavan Mani (baddie) in a scene. I got to see the performer in Rajini, the actor in him that I've been longing to see. Does that mean the superstar fan in me was disappointed? A big NO. None other than him could have pulled off such a mighty responsibility with ease and grace. Be it the innocent Chiti that has no feelings or the 'red-chip' installed baddie, he has scored big bucks as an actor. The scientist is impressive too. Towards the end, all I saw in the screen was Rajini because amidst the thousand odd Rajinis, no one else were given a chance. What more do you want? Hail the superstar. He can redo Muthu/Padayappa/Baasha a thousand times and I'm sure I wouldn't like them as much as Endhiran.

Beyond the Sky is the limit?
The news channels came up with "The Magnum Opus of Shankar" propaganda just before the release of Shivaji. No wonder I never saw the phrase this time. If Shivaji is a magnum opus, Endhiran demands the coining of a whole new term. Thinking about what would have been running in Shankar's mind while penning those scenes with thousands of robots, I guess, he'd have wanted to make use of the budget factor to the fullest. I don't think even he could come up with such ideas for a long time in the future. He has set the benchmarks high and dry for every filmmaker in Kollywood. When and how did he shoot in the Kathipaara flyover? Or was it a set? Both ways, only Shankar could have pulled it off. The man has run behind his dreams and caught up with every ounce of most of it. He scores in terms of story, screenplay, dialogues and direction. What was different in terms of screenplay one may ask. Very True. If you are keen observer, you'd notice that he has NOT moved an inch in terms of his formula of organizing the scenes. I wish to see a romantic-comedy without much grandeur from Shankar. He has set my expectations in terms of grandeur too high.

The crew
The final product always depends on how the crew have understood and perceived what is expected out of each of them. Endhiran's crew fall nowhere short of what was expected out of them. Sabu Cyril (Art), Peter Hein (Stunts) and Antony (Editing) are not new to Shankar and they have delivered as usual. The new entry to this team, Rathnavel a.k.a Randy (cinematography) has lived up to the hype of such a big project. The problem is that with these levels of grandeur the audience fail to notice the little things that are done exorbitantly. For instance, the Kadhal Anukkal song has been pictured really well, but the effects added there simply flies overhead. Though Shankar and Kaarki Vairamuthu have added to the dialogues that Sujatha left them, the veteran has been definitely missed. He could have created a whole new effect.

The Rahman advantage
The songs of the movie are definitely ordinary going by Rahman's standards, but then, after seeing the movie, I don't think he could have done better, given the setup. Imagining what a Robot with feelings would sing is not an easy task. The song that swayed me off my feet was Irumbile Oru Idhayam. The people sitting around me listened to two voices of all the songs, one that was playing on the screen and the one that I was yelling off my throat. Talking about Background Score, I can throw a challenge at anybody else in Kollywood who could have even imagined a better orchestration. The Rahman signature is all over the place when Chitti comes back with the Red Chip. One scene that I need to mention here is the sudden transition from techno-synthesized music to a smooth-breezy tabla and a sweet little hum; the scene where Chitti tells Ash about the two good things mankind has ever created. The candles, the lighting, the picturesque and the music blends so well. It was such a melting experience for me. I just can't admire the man enough! Rahman!

Summing up
I felt that if one Indian movie that would find its place in the list of inspirations of a budding animator, it would be Endhiran. One of my friends who is interested in the field sent me an SMS that read, "Feel so jealous about Shankar". The man has worked on the script for 10 years. He has put his heart and soul in to it looking for a good producer who could offer him the scope for risk. Well, the bet has been safely placed when you cast the Superstar, isn't it? The movie is an experience. I loved it and I'm definitely watching it once more to look at what all I could have missed. Whether you like the movie or not, you'd feel that the money for the ticket is well spent. The critics are always there. Looking from a strict critic's point of view, I noticed two things. One, the sequence before the Kilimaanjaro song and the song itself was unnecessary and could have been cut off mercilessly. The stunt sequence after dragging Ash out of the wedding could have been tweaked, probably with lesser number of people. Otherwise I give an 8.0/10 for the movie.

Almost everybody I know have watched the movie already. For the rest, please watch it, at least once. Don't try to look for the hype you imagined. See what's there and I assure you'll enjoy.

The animation and CG couldn't impress me more. The climax takes the movie to an entirely new level. Loved it. However, there was a pinch of disappointment when I couldn't find one Indian name among the technicians who have worked on the Visual Effects. Maybe. Some day. Dot!