Friday, August 27, 2004

Exaggerated Eminence

Looks like aNTi would be come the next youth icon in Bangalore. Already the number of girls who have asked me and my friends "you know aNTi?" is approaching double digits! - Sanjeeth.

But it now looks like the reports of my sudden metoric rise in eminence in and around the Garden city of Bangalore might be greatly exaggerated. After some vague responses pertaining to the current superstar of Karnataka, Upendra and his successor, he let the cat out of the bag that there have been four instances when he has been asked if was acquainted to me since he graduated from Shanmugha. too. A break-up of the four instances gives me the impression that people who know me (or want to know me, I hope) are also in the KQA and attend "Ad contests" (as participants??).

And contrary to what Sanjeeth thinks, I cannot explain this. BTW, he has to yet clarify who those questioners were/are. Does that mean that those questioners were not members of the opposite sex? Well, they don't know what they are missing here.

Update: Sanjeeth has issued a rejoinder to his original comment. He was asking for such a post from me after making a one liner. But then he thought I was pissed off and I wasn't. I just wanted to know if I know everybody who knows me. Anyways, the crux of the matter is that I know I am "humorous". But fact is, I think I did not have any speaking parts in those "ads" that Sanjeeth mentions. And even if I did, I don't know if those would qualify as "humor" - given that we lifted plot lines randomly from pop culture. However, having said that I won't run away from compliments, because I could use some right now. So if someone thinks I was/am humorous, damn right I am! Thanks Sanjeeth, for bringing this out to the open ;). And for heavens sake, if someone asks you about me, feel free to pass on my email adress (I will hold on to my cell phone number for now)!

(P.S I am not anybody's Thalaivar. I am just a thondan - thalaivar anbai naadi avar pinnadi nirkkkum oru sarasari thondan!)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Ohio University - a Top 5 party school?

The Princeton Review ranks Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) among the top 5 in the list of party schools. It is also rumored that Playboy refused to include OU in a similar list because OU is "in a different plane by itself"! BTW, I plan to graduate from this very place 10 days from now.

Though, I don't know of any response from the univ so far, as opposed to responses from the other schools on the list (easily viewable after a small google search and so I shall not take the pain of giving links), but upon searching the univ website for the key words "party schools, princeton", I see that the first link is a press release from 1998, when OU last made the list (perhaps). Interestingly, this page seems to have been modified on "2004-01-07 02:09:31". But the response toes the same line as those adopted by the other schools - that the Princeton Review "has never been known for credible surveying methods".

However, OU being a party town does not hold any significance to me - a relative teetotaler compared to the binge drinkers that I see among the undergrads on campus every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (yeah, the weekend starts on Thursday evenings here). In fact I am out of touch with the bar scene here in Athens, a small sleepy town when the univ is at break during the summer and for five weeks in November-December.

Mom, before you break into sweat, look carefully at the list. Even Wisc-Mad (reputedly a research oriented school) is on this list and it is number 3! So, don't worry. And frankly I care a damn about such things!

I don't know that you have to immediately make the connection between happy students and the use of alcohol - OU spokesman Hub Burton responding to a question from the Athens Post.

And probably as a response, the college website has this link on its front page.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Blogger banner?

This image is a screenshot of this blog. Does anybody know why this happens and that too only sometimes and not always? Please leave a comment if you know why.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Hrithik versus Vikram - who hammed the most?

In Bollywood, there is widespread shock at Hrithik Roshan not bagging the Best Actor award for his outstanding performance in Koi…Mil Gaya.
Says a major filmmaker. "I haven't seen the Tamil film for which Vikram has won the Best Actor award [Pithamagan]. But it is impossible to believe he was better than Hrithik in Koi…Mil Gaya. A performance like that comes once in a blue moon. Why didn't they give the special jury award to Hrithik instead of Manoj Bajpai for
Pinjar?" (Source: Rediff)

My reaction to this, as someone who saw both movies - Hahahahaha.. When will "major" film makers in Mumbai realise that they are blind people living in a land, the majority of whose citizens are one-eyed!

But I do have to say this. My first thought after Pithamagan was that the role was sufficiently overplayed to make sure that Vikram had a more or less sure shot at the National Award. As for Hrithik in Koi Mil Gaya, all I felt was revulsion. Though a lot of people would feel that both roles were of a similar type, we did not hear Vikram talk in a un-natural voice, at least not throughout the movie!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

True or Half True?

Just how true is this? Mebbe not completely, but I am sure there is something to it, if losing to Peurto Rico by 19 points is any indication! And I am certainly surprised and impressed too that the WNBA is taking a league wide break to accommodate the Olympics!

But I am sure one thing - Sports Illustrated's party must have had an effect!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Of Murder, Pictures and Autorickshaws

Two deaths in two weeks have evoked a sense of the macabre in me. It all started last week when someone forwarded a link from The Hindu that reported that a student from my own alma mater had stabbed his childhood friend over a spurned marriage proposal. And then someone even managed to find morbid before and after pictures of the girl and that has become a much forwarded/discussed email among some of my acquaintances.

The Hindu did not (and neither did a lot of other news sources) publish these photographs which seem to be the work of the Tamil rags that aim at sensationalizing everything. It just seems that the editors of the Tamil mags and newspapers lack the mental maturity and the sense of respect to the departed and their kin. Morbid pictures are almost always splashed on the first page. This apparently is the case with the Tamil TV channels as well, as some fellow bloggers reported after watching graphic images of the recent Kumbakonam fire and its aftermath.

When I was seeing those pictures that were forwarded to me, another image was soon jostling its way into my mind from deep storage - an image (another such post-death picture) of the in-famous Auto Shankar - he of the Thiruvanmiyur serial killings from the late 80s and the supposed inspiration behind some of the sequences in R.K.Selvamani's whodunit Pulan Visaranai. Auto Shankar was executed in Salem Prison in 1995 with a large number of his kith and kin (not to mention the bystanders) milling outside the gates. When his body was brought out of the prison, strangely or not, his face was perfectly visible and one of the press photographers managed to get a clear shot of his face as his body was being carried through the milling throng to a van which was to carry it to Chennai. This picture was splashed on the cover of Junior Vikatan (or was it Nakeeran, the mag that got into trouble by serializing Auto Shankar's "autobiography" that he wrote while in prison, detailing the police-politician nexus and the "real" circumstances behind the killings?). That picture stayed in my mind for a long time and for a week after I saw it, I kept getting mental images of the dopey eyed Shankar's face with a large namam on the forehead. I don't exactly remember whether the namam was due to my own imagination or not, but I did have nightmares for atleast a week thence.

These mental images have kinda returned over the last week after I saw the crime scene pics that were forwarded to me. One fellow blogger actually mentioned that it was "funny" when he forward the pictures to me, but the gory pictures coupled with the picture of the gal when she was alive actually made me retch. And today, reading about the execution of Dhananjay Chatterjee in Alipore on the CNN website, I found that "India's last execution was in 1995, when an auto-rickshaw driver convicted in the serial murders of prostitutes was hanged in southern Tamil Nadu state" - none other than Auto Shankar. Weird huh?

I was probably 12 or 13 when the Auto Shankar serial killings happened and now that I have about a week's waiting period before I defend my thesis on August 20/23, I thought I'd re-read about what had happened and when I Googled for "Auto Shankar", I found that most web encyclopedias that refered to Autorickshaws refered to the Auto Shankar case too and a Wikipedia profile of his is being quoted everywhere where a reference to Autorickshaws is made. Sadly I could find just one site which refered to Thalaivar's Autokaran role - this!

On a completely un-related note, the last link that I have mentioned is from this completely wierd website. Please leave me a message if you figure out what the hell does "quantum spectroscopy techiniques in psycho-acoustic suggestion" means!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Car chases and a colossal miscalculation

One day in 2002, I saw the second episode of the dud series Fastlane on Fox, which used(according to the series plot) a green 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, supposedly the same one driven by Steve McQueen (while playing SFPD lieutenant Frank Bullitt in the eponymous movie), as a major prop in its plot. I had read so much about McQueen, his patent and Frank Bullit's 10 minute car chase down the streets behind a Dodge Charger of similar vintage that I had to go to my univ library and borrow the tape. The car chase was captivating and the only note-worthy car chase (at least that was the way I remembered it) that I had seen before that, was the one from the climax of Vidudhalai, the mid 1980s Tamil re-make of Qurbani, starring Thalaivar and a surprisingly comical Sivaji (playing a middle aged cop) with a pot belly and accompanying loud laughter. Those of you who have seen both these movies would probably feel I am doing McQueen and the Highland green Mustang a grave injustice, should attribute this slight on the fact that suitable comparisons did not exist, until I saw French Connection and then Ronin, both rather belatedly last year.

Then I saw French Connection. If Bullit’s was carefully planned mayhem on cordoned off streets, French Connection’s was monster car madness on public roads with the public (and the people in high office?) completely unaware of what was on that day. Most of the near death experiences in Gene Hackman’s maniacal driving thorough are near death experiences really! Ranging from the wreck that ends the scene to Hackman’s cinematic avoiding of a lady with a cart crossing the road were real sequences that were not staged. FYI, this link mentions that the lady went into shock soon afterward, but survived, along with that particular scene that can be seen in all its glory.

I borrowed Ronin because I read somewhere that that the car chase in Ronin surpassed Bullit's and the French Connection’s. I was very impressed by the automobile carnage of symphony-esque proportions involving 80's vintage cars careening about the roads of Marseilles. Ronin’s chase became immediately enshrined with Bullitt’s.

These three movies are still etched in my mind (after beating Vidudhalai by miles). But I seem to have some competitors of recent vintage too – Gone in Sixty Seconds for one. But Nicholas Cage’s driving of a vintage 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang does lose some sheen when you look closely and find that a lot of takes are (probably) staged as opposed to the previous mentioned three that are largely untouched by the brushes of editing software. I did think that chase in The Bourne Identity (Matt Damon, driving a Morris Mini) was closer to Ronin’s (and Bullit’s) in terms of intensity than Gone in Sixty Seconds, but I do think that is because of the similarity of the French locale – Paris and Marseilles and the wet cloudy feel of the scenes.

Then on Friday, I saw the Bourne Supremacy. There are two chase scenes – the first one set in Panaji of all places (yup, in hippie looking Goa, nonetheless). The vehicles are very much Indian – an army green Maruti Gypsy that Matt Damon drives through (and alternates between) the dusty back roads of rural Goa and the busy city center of Panaji and his pursuer driving a Hyundai Sonata (?). In fact the Hyundai sticks out sorely like a thumb, which David Webb a.k.a Jason Bourne notices immediately and realizes (he is really paranoid, not without reason) he has to skip town.

Then the second chase involves Bourne driving an old beat up Merc (another similarity with Ronin I guess) with his pursuer (the same killer) driving a Merc G-Class (Did the Tata's base the visual cues of the Sumo on those of the G-Class?). This chase seems to have been modeled on Ronin’s with wrong side driving, t-bone impacts, 360 degree skids, not to mention a frenetic drive through highway tunnels, all finding a place. In all this, combined with the fact that I think that the Bourne Supremacy is much better than the Bourne Identity, this chase has been inducted to my top 10 car chases.

Elsewhere in movie land, Roger Ebert writes off Night’s The Village with the same sort of resignation that I feel for one of Mahesh Bhatt’s recent Hollywood rip offs. I am not someone who reads movie reviews before watching them, unless these reviews (like the ones Taran Adarsh and Prem Panickar wrote for Yuva/AE) stick out like a sore thumb. But Roger the Simon and Garfunkel songs in "The Graduate" are instantly forgettable Ebert is someone who can be believed (to say the least). So if he uses phrases like “colossal miscalculation” and “an anti-climax” to describe a movie then it will more or less be one.

Anyways, I will be waiting to see in DVD or in video when it finally comes out in a couple of months. Maybe if a lot of lesser mortals (lesser than Ebert and so my equals) tell me otherwise, I will watch it maybe after a couple of weeks when I can finally breath a sigh of relief.