Thursday, June 26, 2003

What is the Matrix?

I asked the question after the first movie and was able to get a lot of answers just by thinking hard. Maybe not too hard. Because all the answers seemed to be answered within the movie and the Wachowskis wanted to judge the response of audiences world-wide before embarking on the second and the third stages of their journey to wow the intellectual audiences all round the world.

I remember having read a review of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report somewhere online. Cannot remember where though. The reviewer compared his thoughts after coming out of the movie with those that he/she had after having watched Ridley Scott's Blade Runner almost two decades ago. He said that Ridley Scott had completely changed the face of the Sci-Fi genre and invented a new genre by itself - The dark socially conscious Sci-Fi Noir and termed Minority Report, the Blade Runner of the 21st century. Maybe the reviewer failed to read between the lines in the Matrix. It is certain, at least to me that this reviewer should have waited for a year and seen The Matrix Reloaded first before commenting about the significance of the Minority Report.

The Matrix was perhaps the brightest child of the Sci-fi Noir genre. But the significance of most of the movie's lines was perhaps lost in the shock and awe of 24 different cameras documenting Keanu Reeve's jumps and kicks, not to mention the now universally termed "Bullet Time" sequences. Some of these lines are better illustrated when we think of computers and their capabilities. More when we relate those lines to those from The Matrix Reloaded. Even more when we do the same in November when Revolution comes out. Till then we have to look into these lines introspectively. Introspectively, because that is all what the Matrix stands for – looking into yourself and finding out eventually whether you exist for a reason. For some this thought is a pointer to what the Wachowski’s have borrowed heavily from – ancient religious scripts, everywhere from the Bible to the Zend Avesta and to the Vedas. I happened to read a number of pieces around cyberspace, which have sought to throw some light into what the Wachowski’s, have intended to convey with the trilogy. One of these is universally accepted – that the trilogy is nothing but a good, old-fashioned fight between good and evil. Only that this time it is virtual, that is, it happens only the people of the Zion choose to accept that it is happening, which is again congruent to what the Matrix main funda states – Reality is just what you choose to accept as “happening”.

There are two lines of thought even in religion. Maybe this is the same argument that is behind the “half-full vs. half-empty” argument that divides the human psychology into two. One stream believes that God exists and that God created the world to discharge some pent up energy. Now this would be true to the “law of conservation of energy”, wouldn’t it be?. The other stream believes that God does not exist and it was Satan who created the world as we know it, to terrorize and imprison the humans. I am not clever enough to really say which group is right but there are some of people who believe that the Wachowskis belong to the latter. This link is a interesting read that brings out a lot of the Wachowskis ostensible thoughts into the limelight.

Most people who saw both the movies rubbished the second as being nowhere as good as the first. According to me, these people fall cleanly into two categories.
1. People who saw the first purely as a source of entertainment and were wowed by the “Bullet Time” sequences and the 360-degree swirls. I have just one advice for these people - lay of sci-fi noir and go back to Jackie Chan! You are stupid. And I bet that these people saw the movie just once and fast-forwarded the movie to the action sequences when watching on tape or DVD.

2. People who haven’t really grasped the message from the second movie. For you guys, my advice is watch the movie again or read a transcript of the exchange between the Architect and the One and think about the lines before deciding. Even better, wait for Revolutions and watch both movies again successively.

The problem with Reloaded is that this movie was not intended to be a separate ship by itself. My guess is that the Wachowskis bifurcated the sequel so that all loose ends can be tied up and the story could be conveyed in its entirety, at least by the end of Revolution. That has perhaps not won them admirers. Instead it has alienated some the most faithful admirers of the first movie. But then, as I said earlier, some people did not really understand the subtle messages in the first movie and were concentrating on the Kung fu. Duh….So Larry and Andy should not be disheartened and my guess is that they are not.

Some other interesting reads for a fellow Matrix freak:

* Newsweek's curtain raiser to Matrix Reloaded
* Real World Magazine's coverage of Matrix Reloaded
* Matrix Reloaded: The Architect's Speech Analyzed - a Google Group thread analyzing the exchange between Neo and the Architect.
* Matrix Reloaded - The Corporate Mofo Guide

I somehow missed the Matrix when it released in India. My guess is that this happened mainly because I was then in Thanjavur. This becomes even more apparent if I tell you that some examples of the movies I watched in Trichy and Thanjavur were pulp entertainers like “The Mummy”, “Anaconda”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Wild Wild West” and “Jingle all the Way”. Mindless at best. In addition to the Matrix, I missed other movies like “American Beauty”, “Pulp Fiction” and that is sacrilege. However, I think I was lucky to have watched the Matrix on tape and that too at Bala’s continually re-watching those scenes where I missed lines and stuff. That way, I was truly able to identify the Matrix as the best seller it was after it had become the first movie to have notched up a million copies in DVD sales. Now that is interesting trivia!

QOTD: “Humph. Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness” – The Architect, responding to Neo’s apparent decision to save Trinity at the cost of Zion. (Matrix: Reloaded, 2003)

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

T-shirt maniac

Yipeeee. I finally received my own Blogger T-shirt yesterday from the Google Store via USPS. Paid through my nose for it, but T-shirts are my weakness, so it was obvious that I would buy it for sure. And I am wearing it today. See a enlarged pic of my T shirt here.

Actually, I have always thought that those of you who have seen me in flesh and blood seem to enjoy my T-shirts. I love T-shirts and I love them “loud” T-shirts that have funny messages on them. Nothing suggestive, but clean humorous one. And they seem to put people at ease the moment they see me and eases the initial communication glitches that seem to happen most of the time with me. And I think wearing T-shirts like that just conveys everything about me to the person seeing me for the first time.

I still remember what happened at Brussels when I was in transit on my first ever journey overseas. We were this group of 17 wide eyed would be graduate students hunting for a particular gate in the Zaventem airport in Brussels. We had a couple of hours to kill and we were walking around looking for the lounge. This was just after we got off the plane from Chennai and that place was almost deserted. Moreover, the few people we had around seemed to speaking only French or Flemish (I don’t really know the difference between the two). I, being the bold youngster out to impress the few girls in the group, went ahead searching for someone to ask directions and I find this guy in a uniform loading baggage on to a cart. I go to him and even before I could smile, he looks up and says after a second’s pause – “Sorry No interviews”. I am like, whoa, this is just baggage and not a microphone, for heavens sake. And then I realize that my T-shirt has the same message on the front. Both of us immediately burst out laughing when I looked down and saw him pointing to my T-shirt. He pointed out directions and even came halfway through with the group before going back to his work. After this, whenever I have worn the T-shirt, I have had people repeating the lines to me even before I asked them something.

I have a number of such “attractive” T-shirts that catch the eye. And usually I have one new one in stock that I take out and wear at parties and stuff. By the way, I am not exactly a party animal, so I don’t get to wear them often. I have one that says, “You are here” and has an arrow pointing to the center of a bulls eye. I have another that goes “I.N.S. I am not Stupid”. I also had one that read, “You don’t know me. FBI witness protection Program”, that I bought in DC last year. I haven’t seen it for sometime now. I wore it, for laughs, the day I went for my driver’s license written test and had everyone in splits when the lady wanted to take my photograph for the id. And my newest is one that goes I have one T-shirt that reads, “I am loud, fat, immature, lazy. But I am fun”. I am going to be wearing it this weekend. I love those Tantra T-shirts too, but I have never really bought one. Should ask Prabhu to get some when he gets back, if he has some space.

I actually found a website that has such T-shirts. Check it out here. But those are stuff I wouldn’t caught dead in, because I usually send photographs home to India from time to time and my mom would kill me if I wore one of those in public. The older generation seems to get off on curbing people having fun. But kids these days do a lot of things too, so I guess that’s justified. :)

QOTD: "I Was Born Intelligent, But Education Ruined Me" - Seen on a T-shirt (Anonymous)

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I'm no Clark Kent for sure, but i could be James Bond.. Definitely!

Hmm, I have been stressing all along that me and Clark Kent don't really see molecule to molecule. But I can definitely say that I possess the grace, charm, style and the brains to be 007's successor. I could definitely be James Bond. I just need some training in the ways of the Great Game. And I am slowly getting it... through this link right here.. Thanks to my like minded buddy, Nilu.

Take the test to see if u have what it takes to be a 00X. I took it and am on the way now. My name's Subramanian... Ananthanarayanan Kootala Subramanian... whew....Thats the first step, the way you say your name. The rest, you will learn on the way, including a 6 credit hour, Phd level course on women and the ways of them. I am not in that course yet and so am still RC for the next couple of months atleast, till I can take it and pass it with an A.... :).

By the way, surmounting means winning over or defeating. I am talking straight here.. No innuendo as my predeccessor was so full of. Which, btw, brings us to the QOTD now.

QOTD : "You're a woman of many parts, Pussy!" - 007 to Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Aestivus horribilis infit, but definitely not for the OUCC

Over the last few days, I have been mulling over what threatens to be a "aestivus horribilis". For all of you who think less of ancient tongues, aestivus horribilis means "horrible summer". The absence of a paying job for summer seems to be a big pain on my err... neck. The only (just for thoughts, can there ever be more than one?) silver lining seems to be cricket.

Cricket is going to be such a calming influence this summer. The OUCC, of which I am a loud part, has finally gotten a home of its own, on West State Street, adjacent to the Biochemistry building. This ground is part of the campus Driving Range (see directions to the ground here) and comprises of an area that is between the 250 yard mark in the driving range and the bike path to Hocking Hills. It is easily reachable by walking/biking along the bike path or by road.

We won our first-ever home game in the Midwest Cricket Tournament - 2003, quite easily against Cincinnati, powered by exceptionally strong performances from our bowlers Chaminda, Tariq, Rajesh, Ganesh and the pride of Bank One a.k.a Sitaram Jakka. We bowled out Cincinnati for 59 (in 27.5 overs). We were replying sedately and had lost three wickets before our own Bhuvan, Siddesh decided that it was time to go home and hit 31, studded with three towering sixers (each of which landed closer to Shashi’s car than the previous) and a boundary (that would have hit Shashi’s car, had not Raman decided to show off his fielding skills), all on the straight V. Siddesh’s brilliance resulted in us knocking off the target in just 17 overs, after we had scored just around 25 runs in the first 12 overs. But then our victory (see scoreboard here) was a forgone conclusion once our bowlers (for the first time ever and definitely not for the last time) applied a classic end game strategy that had been strangely missing in the matches last year and in our first match in this tournament and polished up the tail in an innings where the score had been 46 for the loss of 6 wickets at the drinks break.

The man of the match was Chaminda, though he was not separated from the other bowlers by much. Tariq, Ganesh, Rajesh and Jakka demonstrated the virtues of good line and length bowling and this obviously reflected on the number of extras, which even though was just over 30 percent of Cincinnati's score, was pretty low compared to last year's standards when it usually hovered around the 40s. Ganesh had just two runs scored off the bat in his four overs and that is exemplary. I don't have similar statistics for the other bowlers, but they were right there alongside Ganesh and Chaminda.

And though Siddesh's blitzkreig had awesome entertainment value and had the opposition shaking their heads in disbelief, he would be the first to admit that with Anbu and the rest (right upto Rajesh and Chaminda, who had played a gem of an innings,the day before, in the practice match) still to come, the question was obviously going to be answered positively. Good job Bhuvan.

Hats off guys. Lets hope that the Voice of the OUCC (as yours truly has anointed himself) doesn’t need to dust his well-worn shoes this summer. I pretty much want to play, but the presence of a strong batting lineup (however, on paper, just like India) threatens to spoil any chances. Last year’s inexplicable defeats still rankle and this year shall be different hopefully.

QOTD: "I don't know what these fellows are doing, but whatever they are doing, they sure are doing it well." - Pete Sampras on watching Brian Charles Lara and Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose at Lord's.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

How to play ("simulate") a game of cricket with a scientific calculator

To simulate a game of cricket using a common scientific calculator.

Items required:
A common scientific calculator (See Note), a sheet of paper (preferably ruled), a pencil or a pen, an eraser (incase a pencil is used).

General Information:
This simulation uses a common calculator equipped with various scientific and statistical functions. The functions required for such a simulation are readily available as inbuilt functions in a common scientific calculator. The FX-100S model from Casio (my first ever calculator) was my choice during my early days in this game, which coincided with my first year at undergraduate college. Now I use the FX-115W (click here to download the user manual as a PDF file from the Casio website), which is just as fine a calculator as the FX-100S (which is retro now, I think). This does, however, not mean, that you need a scientific calculator per say to play this game. Since the random generator is the single function actually needed to play (with all other functions used mainly used to keep track of the overs used up), the scientific calculator can be dispensed with. However, I am describing the simulation using a scientific calculator (the FX-115W), as this simulation is mainly intended for the would-be engineer who wants to pass his time through a boring class. Students in other streams have, in my honest opinion, other methods to do the same. But in a silent class, as a engineering student almost always encounters, this is the BEST way to kill time without the instructor coming to know that you are up to mischief. Also, I expect the reader to be familiar with the working of his or her scientific calculator. So all technical information pertaining to the calculator is not given. Additionally, this is the way I started playing it. Users are welcome to make changes according to their own likes and dislikes.

To simulate a Test match
The first step is to change the mode of the calculator to the SD mode. Once this is done, the calculator is fully enabled to keep track of the number of overs consumed during the innings. How this has been done will be apparent as we go on. Now, press the “shift” button followed by the “AC” button and then the “=” key to clear the calculator memory of all previously stored data values. Before doing this however, it would be worthwhile to check if you have any data stored that would be of use. But if you were at least half as intelligent as me (I am stupid, believe me!), you would have made a paper copy of all stored data.
Now that the calculator has been primed for our use, we can proceed with the toss to decide which team gets to bat first. Lets take that India is playing Pakistan in a Test match. Lets assume India will bat first if they win the toss. Now, press the shift button and then the Ran# function. On the screen you will see a random number that’s generated. Write this number down against India. Then follow the above-mentioned steps to generate another random number. And note this number against Pakistan. The higher number (Note that it is always a real number between 0 and 1) points to the winner of the toss. Lets say that India won the toss. Since we have already assumed that India will bat first on the event of winning the toss, India gets to bat first.
Now make two wide columns on the piece of paper. Divide each column into two sub-columns, each representing one inning for that particular team.
Now that we are set up, we can get to the actual game. Press the shift key and then the Ran# function to start. Note the first digit after the decimal point on the random number that has been generated. This is the number of runs actually scored in that particular over. Keep this number in memory and add each additional digit (on subsequent generations) to the one in memory to keep track of the runs scored. If the first digit is “0”, it means a wicket has fallen in that particular over. In that case, note the next digit after the “0”, which indicates the runs scored in that over before or after the wicket fell. Add the noted digit to the sum already in memory and put it down to paper once a wicket falls. So we are keeping track of the runs scored in each partnership. In order to make the simulation more analogous to a real test match, all digits that are greater than 6 are to be noted as “1 run”. This would change when we are simulating an ODI (which we will discuss later on). Though it would seem very unlikely that no one scores more than six runs in an over in a Test match, we have to however note that there are no maiden overs possible in this simulation and the effects of both these assumptions sort of negate each other.
Once you have the digit added to the sum in memory, press the “M+” key to increment the number of data points (since we are working on the SD mode) by one and to generate the next random number (both happen at the same time). This would keep track of the number of overs. Remember, each digit that we add the sum that we are mentally keeping track, is the number of runs scored in that partnership in each over.
When ten wickets fall (or since this is a test match, you declare the innings), add up all the numbers in the particular column. This is obviously the total score of the team in that innings. Now to note down the overs consumed (which you might even observe from time to time during the course of the innings), all that you need to do, is press the “RCL” key and then the key marked C, which would give you the number random numbers generated. Note this number down under your total score, maybe in brackets. Proceed with the next innings. You have to remember that in a test match, usually there is a maximum of 90 overs each day, which makes it a total of 450 overs. So keep track of the overs from time to time, especially in the fourth innings. Another thing is that each time you check the number of overs (press “RCL” and then “C”), to get back to the random number mode, you have to start afresh from the “shift” and then the “Ran #” keys. However, this does not affect the count of overs and every press of the “M+” key increments the number of overs by one and also generates the runs scored in that over. Continue till either all the wickets have fallen or all 450 overs are consumed or till a result is apparent (which ever comes first, as in case of the real test match). All other test match rules apply, including the draw and the tie scenarios and hence it is always critical to keep track of the target and the overs consumed when the fourth innings is on. Note down the overs consumed, cumulatively or otherwise always.

To simulate an ODI
The groundwork and the toss proceed as in the case of the Test match simulation. Even the random number generation works the same way, as would the counting of the overs. But, always do clear memory (“shift”, “M+” and then at last “=”) at the start and end of each inning, so that the count starts afresh. And the paper used to keep track of scores only has the two main columns, each representing that teams inning. Due to various reasons that I have given below, I have in the past, used two or more methods (some of which I have totally forgotten) to simulate ODIs. I have given below three of them that I actually use or remember now. It is left to the user to choose between these three.

Method 1
All the scoring methods and the counting methods work as in case of the test matches. However instead of counting “1”, when the first digit is greater than 6, we use the digit as is and stop innings when the memory shows that 50 random numbers have been generated. Again, if the first digit is zero, use the next digit to denote the runs scored in that particular over. This method however results in scores in the range of the early 200s more often than it results in scores of the 250s or beyond and so might not appeal to certain people. To get over this niggling fault, I came up with the second method.

Method 2
Actually this method is very close to Test matches than the first ODI method given above, including the “1” instead of numbers higher than 6. However we get to generate 150 random numbers instead of 50. We count every two 3 numbers as an over (i.e. one generated number standing for 2 balls of a over). But this gives us a lot of scores in the range of 300 and again this might not be desirable. So we get the third method.

Method 3
Usually in a real life ODI match, the thumb rule is that any team’s total score doubles between the 30th and the 50th over. This method of simulation aims to duplicate that particular thumb rule. So we actually allow 60 random generations. Note that 60 is the 2 times 30 and hence any score at the end of 30 generations would double. However, we would put down the number of overs after 30 proportionate to 50. So 55 generations would amount to [(55-30)/20] additional overs after the 30 over mark, which results in a total of approximately 47 overs in this case. Incase this does not make sense, the actual formula is :

Number of total overs, O = P + [(P – 30) / 20] where, P is the number of random numbers generated.

The third method seems to be the most complicated but it is the closest I have ever got to a real world cricket game.

Here I have presented a method of simulating a cricket Test and three different methods of simulating an ODI cricket match using a simple scientific calculator.

These methods given above are primitive in nature and only reflect the intense interest in the part of yours truly towards the game of cricket as it is played in both the hallowed turf at Lords and in the sandhus (which in colloquial Tamil means “side streets”) of Chennai. It is left to the readers to tailor these methods to suit their likes. As much as the author would like to say that he developed these methods (at least a part of that statement is true), he does not want to impose any intellectual copyrights over these methods and wants everyone to use (and distribute) these methods at will and discretion. He will not however mind if this methods are attributed to him, by anyone who wishes to use them or pass them on to others. Additionally the author would like to interact with anyone on any improvements that they choose to do to make these methods much more closer to the actual game.

QOTD: "Cricket is like sex films. They relieve frustration and tension." - Linda Lovelace, star of Deep Throat

Monday, June 09, 2003

Found a post on Gaurav’s blog, which mentioned among other things, Edward Norton. I actually thought I hadn't seen much of Norton. But looking at his filmography at, I was surprised that I have seen most of it. He has just 14 movies to his credit in seven years. I am hooked to this guy. He was intense in as Agent Will Graham in Red Dragon and totally awesome in Primal Fear, which, I was not surprised to find, was his debut. Primal Fear earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. But I have to say that he does have some infallibility.

On Friday, I watched the Italian Job, whose ensemble cast featured among others, Norton, Mark Walberg, Charlize Theron, Seth Green and Donald Sutherland (in a itsy bitsy and yet a pivotal 10 minute role). I am not risking spoiling someone’s movie plans because whatever I tell you will be apparent within 10 minutes into the movie (after the credits, because the major stuff happens on the pre-credit sequence).

Edward Norton was wasted in a negative role and some of his antics were comical and reminded me of old Tamil movies where the villain is a caricature and almost a shade of their original characters in the climaxes. After seeing him in Red Dragon, this movie was a big letdown. He would have been great as the brooding Charlie (played by Mark Wahlberg).

But the letdown by Norton was more or less compensated by the trio of souped up Mini Coopers. They were the actual stars. Totally awesome. Incidentally, when Jay Leno and Katie Couric traded places last month on their respective NBC shows, the Mini’s were at the set of the Today show (as part of the Italian Job’s promos) and Leno took one of them for a spin outside the Rockefeller center and drove them hard with 180 degree slides on both ends of the barricaded street. Fellow hosts Al Roker and Matt Lauer (who incidentally is a Ohio University alumini) were totally hooked. Needless to say, so was I. The Mini Cooper S has now entered close to the top of my must-own cars list, which is choc-a-block with fun to drive sport sedans like the Audi A4 Sport, the VW Passat, but headed is by the cute VW Beetle Turbo S. The Cooper S definitely ranks in my Ten-Best cars.

By the way, one of the product placement gimmicks in the movie gives us an “interesting piece of trivia” about Napster. Lyle (the character played by Seth Green) is an electronics geek who graduated from Northeastern University. He insists that everyone call him by his self-anointed nickname, which is The Napster. He claims that Shawn Fanning (the creator of Napster) stole the idea and the code for Napster from him when he was napping on his computer desk (and hence the name Napster). Hence he claims that HE is the “Real Napster”. In fact he hacks into the Philly traffic department computer and alters the code so that he can control all the traffic lights in downtown Philly from his laptop (??). And then, the feed from all the traffic cameras in the city in the central control center momentarily go blank and then flash the message “You cannot shut down the REAL NAPSTER”. Obviously a product placement gimmick with Napster making a re-entry legally into the business after years of legal wrangle. It was also interesting to see Shawn Fanning (playing himself) actually “stealing a computer disc” (supposedly with the Napster source code) from Lyle when Lyle naps on his desk. This is when Lyle tells everyone the reason behind his nickname. It is also interesting to read the first lines of the article that is linked to Shawn Fanning on this post. The lines refer to Shawn Fanning's roomie at Northeastern. Any real world connections here?

Before I end the day, here is the QOTD...By the way, my signature farewell quote to all my emails are from one of the books written by the same guy who said this QOTD.

QOTD: In heaven all the interesting people are missing. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, June 07, 2003

A job in hand is worth two when you don't have one !!

I sent out some networking emails today to a couple of my relatives who are around here in the USA. The whole issue of a livelihood is getting murkier day by day and the seriousness of the situation has slowly started dawning on to me. If you guys know of someone who’s looking for a fresh (graduate) industrial engineer (with a undergraduate mechanical engineering degree), please forward my resume on to him or her. All relevant details are on my my resume.

I am primarily looking for a production planning/scheduling position. However at this current state of affairs, any job/internship suitable for an Industrial Engineer ought to suffice. About salary expectations, I don’t much to say on that and so I think that should be governed only by the geographical and social conditions in the area where I would have to relocate. Yeah, I am willing to relocate, which is obvious, considering the abject lack of employment opportunities for engineers like me within 50 miles either side of Athens, Ohio.

I am personally not averse to work in India immediately, if that’s what it takes to get a job. I might be sounding philosophical (or maybe dumb too), but I am not too concerned about a salary right now if it means that I would get job security and that’s a rare commodity in these times in the US. I am really thinking of going down to India in March/April next year (as soon as my thesis is complete and ready for the defense) to search for jobs. In the event of getting a job (which is easier there in India than here), all I would need to do is to come back for maybe a month and defend it. Worst case, I have to come here and think of some way of extending my I20 (I have a 5 year visa).

QOTD: I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position. - Mark Twain

Friday, June 06, 2003

Me writing a story ?

Of late, a couple of my friends have been putting the idea into my mind that I could write a good story. No, I am not talking like Mr.Heckles. Heeding to their wishes, I decided to give it a try. But the question is, how to choose a subject? I can't write anything serious. That would be too unlike me. So I thought I could add some humour to a otherwise bland story. Look forward for something in this regard in the coming weeks.

So that makes too posts to wait for in the coming weeks.
1.) This story that I would be starting as soon as summer starts next week.
2. ) How to play ("simulate) a game of cricket (both ODIs and Tests) using a common scientific calculator. However, the "simulation" would be specific to only one model of calculator. It is left to the reader to corelate the steps given in the peice with his/her model. However I promise to give all feedback if someone has any questions.

Nothing more to pen today, except that almost all the glitches in this blog have been removed. Almost because, something screws up off and again. Touch-wood.

QOTD: I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain
me myself and my ego....

Thursday, June 05, 2003

AR Rahman and some of his underrated gems

Over the last couple of days, there has been a major thread on the AR Rahman fans mailing list, discussing some of his songs that have not been appreciated by the masses. And most of the songs discussed are from his older Tamil efforts – the likes of Andhimantharai, Pudhiya Mannargal etc.

But, other than his "hidden legends", which most other people have been mentioning, I actually feel that some of his Hindi numbers have been the ones that have been underrated the most. I think that’s natural, that, being a music director from the Chennai, ARR had some initial difficulty in getting his message across the Vindhyas. However people like Sandeep Chowta, who’s Chennai based, have managed to get over that very problem quite easily. But I still haven't seen the variety in Sandeep Chowta's compositions that are so apparent in each of AR Rahman's efforts and that I feel had been one major reason why a number of his compositions fail to tickle the mass's interest.

Even that apparent difficulty faced by Rahman can be attributed to his experiments. The use of voices ("strange Madrasi voices", as one of my friends who hails from Mumbai once told me) alien to their (people from North India) ears along with the use of classical carnatic alaaps (like in "Tu hi tu" from Kabhi na Kabhi) brought only strange looks to people's faces. Other than that, in terms of Hindi movies, it has only been the non-performance of some of his movies in the box office (like Daud, Thakshak, Kabhi na Kabhi etc.)

And when we speak of underrated songs, the first song that comes to my mind is - Khamosh Raat from Thakshak. People who hear it for the first time (I listen to it almost once a day, mostly before going to bed, because it’s kind of calming :)) immediately ask me the name of the movie. And I think the song gets new fans everyday, courtesy me. Sung so beautifully by Rope Kumar Rathod, its one of our man ARR's best.

And another one that makes to the top of my list is Tu hi tu from Kabhie Na Kabhi. I think though MG Sreekumar and Chitra did an excellent job with the song, I think Rahman was experimenting and it did not go through to the masses at all. I have been humming this song ever since I heard it on Superhit Muqabla. By the way, Deva did a poor imitation of this song with Unni Krishanan and Chitra (Manase Manase) in Nenjinille. I think the last mentioned song was picturised on Vijay and Isha Koppikar, exactly the same way as the Hindi original was, I think on the Mumbai beachfront. I might be wrong of course. But somehow the original Hindi song stuck to my mind and it stuck with the visuals of the Tamil song. Yuck!!!

And then the next one is Mere Yaara Dildara from the same movie. Vintage Hariharan, in the way he lets the frivolousness in his voice come through. I love Hariharan and so this is one of my favorites. What is unique is that, I think this is one of the few songs featuring both Hariharan and SPB (I can’t seem to think of another one).

Other than these songs, Zubeida was one of his best efforts for a period movie. And the fact that it was period movie, I think, led to the music not being appreciated by the masses. Actually other than Lagaan and Gadar (which I think was mainly because of the cricket and the nationalistic messages in them), none of the period movies in the recent past have made a splash, both at the box office and in term of music sales. But the effort to tailor the songs to suit the flavor the period represented was exemplary.

Same goes with Iruvar. You hear the songs and you CAN picture MGR or any other hero of the period singing the songs. The basis of the movie and its story took care of that. But that does not just happen with Narumugaye, more because it is a song based on a classical raaga and such songs are timeless (in my belief, at least). In that sense Narumugaye was probably the most popular of the set.

And I just got into the mood for some of "Kabhi Na Kabhi".. my friends are already groaning. But am sure they will come around :) And for all you guys who would wanna do some additional reading on this subject (sounding academic, are we:) ), check this link out. It is from The Music Magazine. And to sum up, all the links in this post open out to external pages. And I could not find Pudhiya Mannargal at both and So if you guys know where the songs from this movie are available as streaming files or something, do leave a message.

To sum up my mood for the day, check out the exchange of the day. Actually this should and is termed as "Exchange of the Week"! Life's that bad!

Forrest Gump: It happens..
Bumper Sticker guy: What, shit?
Forrest Gump: Sometimes.