Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Demystifying the Malayalam Months

Yesterday on my way back home from work, I was stuck with a strange thought process. About months in malayalam calendar and how they were matching to the english zodiac signs.
Kanni was obviusly virgo , the virgin -the meaning was so obvious. Tulam was libra -the thulas or balance  which was the sign for libra.Meenam was of course pisces. It was a bit more difficult to match up others but here they are

Vrishchikam-(Googling got me that it means scorpion in Sanskrit)-Scorpio
Makaram-(this was a difficult one)-(Sanskrit meaning-Sea monster)-(Creature with Goat head and fish body)-Capricorn
Kumbham-Pot-Vessel-Water Carrier-Aquarius
Idavam -Just coudn't get this one, the sanskrit one Vrishabham of course coincides with taurus. But Idavam and vrishabam? coun't make any connection.
Midhunam-Couple- Gemini-Twins -May be the constellation was interpreted differently.
Karakatakam-KarKat-sanscrit for crab-Cancer

Then I realised yet another thing. these months were exatcly one month off from the English Sun signs

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Promise

Saranya  looked at the mirror .  Her long waist length hair was shampooed and brown . Her dangling earrings were black metal and she wore not a tiny speck of gold anywhere. Her tiny black chain looked rusty over her faded T shirt. She looked as less traditional as a girl could be. Usually she would have loved this look. But today she hated herself.

A few months back , her look was a constant source of discord within the house. Each time she came down for dinner dressed this way, Sumitra aunty would make her life miserable. She would scold her head off ."Why can't you dress like an Indian girl. Why can't you wear some gold ornaments. It is not that your parents are poor and can't afford any of this." Saranya would ignore here completely and this angered her even more. Saranya's mother tried to make peace. She is here only for a few days and she is here for treatment. You have to be nice to her. And to her credit , she tried , but wearing gold ornaments and traditional clothes were beyond her."I can't wear ornaments just to please somebody". One day a frustrated Saranya shouted , only to find out that Sumitra aunty had overheard. From then on , she never uttered a word.

Months later, Sumitra aunty became weaker and weaker and lost all her hair after treatment. She would look at Saranya sadly , but did not say anything.Soon she became bedridden.One evening , she called Saranya to her side and said ,"When I was young, I used to love ornaments and new dresses, but my parents had no money to buy me anything.That is why when I see you not wearing any ornaments that your parents buy for you, I scold you so much. I can no longer wear them, At least I may see them on you.Her eyes filled with tears." Saranya understood. "Tomorrow. I will wear my new set saree and show off all my jewels to you and I will dress you up too. Let us take some photos then".

That was the last conversation Sumitra had with any body in this world.

The next day saranya sat alone in her room staring at the mirror. She looked as less traditional as a girl could be and first time in her life, she hated herself. On an impulse she took out her saree and wore it for the first time with out a complaint.She wore her gold chain and earrings. She looked at the mirror again . Tears were streaming down her face , but she felt at peace. She knew she had kept her promise and somewhere deep in her mind felt that Sumitra aunty too knew that  where ever she was.

My old 3310

As I was lazily snoozing the alarm on my iPhone in half woken slumber , a picture came to my mind.-My first cell phone , the Nokia 3310. It was big and blue and my constant companion for a good 6 years.It was back in 2003. India was a land where mobile phones were not so much in vogue as it is now. Incoming was also charged at around Rs 5 per min and even those select few blessed with the latest gadgetry hardly ever answered calls unless it was urgent.Then TRAI made incoming calls free. It was then that my mother, who wanted to keep tabs on her teenage daughter in college persuaded my dad to get me a cell phone. A small sleek (by the standards of the time) Nokia 3310. I was the least happy of the lot. Not only did I not want frequent calls from my mom asking where I was , but the fact was that being the scatter brain that I was , I was pretty confident that I would lose it somewhere in the course of the month.

But soon , for the first time in life , people started looking for me in hostel. I became an overnight celebrity as there were very few in the girls hostel who had cell phones .Hostel mates with boyfriends queued up to use my cell phone and in 2 years , the phone was witness of hundreds of hours of sugar coated puppy love.By the last year of college , cell phones became cheaper and more common and the use of my cell phone diminished considerably. It was then that I realised the power of the composer in the phone. I spent many fun hours trying desperately to create some new ring tones with not much success.

Later in 2004 when I got engaged and moved to Bangalore for my first job, the phone became a symbol of my new status as I was almost always on call with my fiance.Later the phone would also see a large number of international calls as my fiance moved to US and I emptied my pockets constantly to make expensive international calls.As the mobile world changed around ,me with people opting for sleeker and newer phones, I was looked at with disdain for holding on to my old phone.Do you use it to throw at stray dogs to keep them away was a common refrain I heard in those days. But I held on .. I had to change batteries three times and kept the phone which woke me up faithfully every day and kept me company all day long.

Everything has a life and life cycle and that was what I found out in 2006 , when I tried in vain to get the phone to charge up . It stubbornly refused to do so even after changing the battery and the charger and that was when I realised that it was the end of a long and eventful comradeship.

I got a Samsung 2310 after that and then a Nokia 3100 ,and now finally an IPhone.As I am gently touching the touch screen of the iPhone , I think of all those text messages hammered down into the hard keyboard of 3310. How times have changed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ഉറുമിയും മാണിക്യകല്ലും

Happened to see two Prithviraj movies -the much hyped urumi by santhosh sivan and also manikyakkallu which has prithvi in a soft role -without action and muscles as a simple school teacher. Let me take them one by one.

Urumi on one hand has the trademark cinematography by Santhosh Sivan which makes watching the lush green shores of kerala in the 16th or 17th century candy for anyone's eyes.The movies traces the course of a young man(Prithviraj) sworn to avenge the death of his father by the hands of none other than Vasco Da Gama .  But For some reason, the film fails to touch a chord with your heart.The movie looks good , the performers are all awesome, but there is a certain kind of soul missing in the script that prevents the movie from being what it was aimed to be-an Epic. Prithviraj has done an excellent job and is well supported by Prabhu Deva, Nithya Menon and Genelia, though apart from Prithviraj and Prabhudeva, the rest of them look and act odd in their present day counter part roles.The attemps to draw a present day parallel  fails miserably and the movie should have stuck to its original 17th century track.

Best Part :Santosh Sivan's cinematography , Nithya Menon, Prithviraj's drop dead looks.The other suppprting actors from Jagathy to the singers at the king's palace have done justice to their roles.Notably I liked the actor who played the role of the king .

Good Part : Prithvi and Prabhudeva have a good cameraderie and have done well in their roles. Genelia in Action scenes.
OK Part : Script , which is good in parts , but meanders off without knowing if it should take itself seriously or not.
Worst Part :Vidyabalan and Tabu,Costumes(nobody can be tricked into believing that these were authentic kerala costumes)

 Urumi is an enterainer with eye catching visuals, amazing songs, attractive people- eye candy and just like some of the jokes that the lead duo crack on screen, it is not a film to be taken seriously.

Manikyakkallu on the other hand takes itself too seriously, were it a little less idealistic , a little less preachy and did not try to praise its hero every other minute of the second half, it would have been a pleasure to watch. The movie takes after many of the movies in the same genre about a teacher coming to uplift a downtrodden school and has little new to offer and evokes a sense of nostalgia of good old malayalam movies , but does not reach anywhere near them.

Best Part : I liked all the kids acting as students-(They were so natural) & Samvrutha and the location.

Good Part : All the supporting cast like Nedumudi and KPSC and Jagathy sleep walking through the roles they have played a billion times invoking nostalgia of old movies.

OK Part : Prithviraj-He looks good , I liked his non action hero look and style but needs to improve while talking long monlogues.

Worst Part : Script getting kathi like when Prithvi asking kids to read MK Gandhi and stuff. And the unrealistic ending. ( would have been good if it was just a 100% pass and A1 for 1 or 2(A1 for everyone was just unbelievable) and the editing. The movie is a good 20 mins extra long.

It was a movie that could have been better made with a tinge of freshness , but alas , that was not meant to be. It is the same old wine in a slightly newer bottle