Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

As always just before the Oscars get underway, it’s time to recognize those movies that usually don’t get such love but fundamentally serve the purpose of entertaining. The big spectacle, the joy of watching things blow up on screen, the action set pieces – all make up for a heady cocktail to justify paying the price of a ticket and hopefully the entertainment. With that in mind, if there was one word to really describe 2016 movies – the word would really have to be middling

 

Disappointing would be too strong a word but it’s something approaching that when one takes a look at the list. Movies content to coast by, resting on the success of their predecessors thinking that itself might bring the crowds in. Narrative coherence was the other aspect of it as well. So much so that by the end of the year if a filmmaker could weave 20 mins of a coherent story, the movie stood up pretty well. It was also a year where mommy issues dominated the 2 biggest releases of the year – be it “Martha” or “He killed my mother”. Studio interference ruled the biggest franchises leading to muddled visions on screen and more criminally, betraying customer trust as movies on screen completely were different from what was shown in the trailers – a trend likely to continue in 2017 as well.

 

Without much ado, (there really isn’t much anyways), the best of 2017

 

Captain America: Civil War – Or how even the best cowboys have mommy issues

captain-america-civil-war

 

Billed as Avengers 2.5, this was in more ways than one a defining movie for Marvel. Adapted in spirit (if nothing else) from the comic book event of the same name, Marvel had to break the bank in more ways than one to get this off ground, Robert Downey’s contract as well as the wrangling with Sony to get Spiderman in. A packed movie based on the fundamental question on who provides oversight to the superheroes, the movie spent probably even less time on it than the comics while continuing the Winter Soldier storyline, while introducing Black Panther and Spiderman to this world as well, while staying true to the vision that it was a Captain America movie and not Avengers. A fairly heavy plate that was balanced in the true Marvel style employing humor, sarcasm, witty one-liners and a terrific mid movie airport sequence that gets all players a moment to shine. Chris Evans truly does shine in the role while a moody RDJ plays a different role compared to his usual self. Chadwick Bosemen proves to be a phenomenal fit as the Black Panther, all quiet menace, barely concealed anger and immense gravitas while Tom Holland as Spidey is quite charming, gawky and a motor mouth. While the Marvel formula is often derided for being well formulaetic, it’s difficult to be that critical when things work as well as they do here. The House of Ideas keeps marching on

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them or hey, you know what America needs right now,  a story on how illegal aliens cause a whole lot of trouble

fantastic-beasts

 

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. I really haven’t liked any of the Harry Potter movies – found their representation of screen very bad. I also don’t like Eddie Redmayne – except for his unhinged, campy, whispery villainous turn in Jupiter Ascending. So FBAWTFT had a whole lot going against it and it still worked. Redmayne’s slightly absent-minded quirky role turned out to be really charming and the novelty of America as the setting worked completely for it even as the special effects on this were truly outstanding. The expansion of the story to cover the Dumbeldore- Grindelwald conflict definitely makes this intriguing as is Redmayne’s connection with the Lestranges.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or how hindsight is always 20/20

rogue-one

 

For a movie plagued by reshooting troubles, this shaped up really well. In a way, we know what the end point of this movie was going to be. But the very effort of ensuring that it led right up to the opening moments of A New Hope was truly among the goosebumpy moments of the year. It also answers the baffling question on how a truly complicated and deadly weapon like the Death Star would have such a stupid weakness. A diverse cast, impressive location jumping and a fabulous turn by Ben Mendelsohn makes this war movie an engaging one. The Disney strategy of having anthologies along with the Star War sequels was a risky one and Rogue One especially risky given the lack of star names (due apologies to Felicity Jones) but given how successful this turned out to be and with a movie on Han Solo the next one, the force is strongly with them

 

Other notable movies:

  1. Batman v Superman: My thoughts here. Also hampered by the theatrical release. The uncut almost 3 hr movie was way better
  2. Deadpool: Truly R rated and outstanding. Hampered by the fact that Indian censors lacked a sense of humor
  3. Doctor Strange: Iron Man Redux with magic and an American accent spouting Cumberbatch with the RDJ quirks, attitudes and facial hair
  4. Central Intelligence – Fascinating pair of Kevin Hart & Dwayne Johnson – so well done and playing off each other quite well
  5. Star Trek Beyond – A solid entry post the overhyped Wrath of Khan reboot. But whoever came up with the idea of hiding the menace of Idris Elba behind layers of makeup needs an entry pass to Arkham

 

Wow, that’s quite a delayed post innit. Almost half of 2016 gone and this post comes up now. Well, between travel, a couple of personal changes and time to settle in, and of course, the reading for 2016 and also laziness (never forget that), the last few months have pretty much been a blur, leaving hardly any time to write.

 

There is this phrase being used called Peak TV. Basically there is so much television to watch across so many channels (the medium), that its insanely impossible to catch up with all the great television being produced. In a way that is true for genre fiction as well. There are just so many, so many books out there, no matter how much you read, you can barely put a dent in your TBR (To-Be-Read) Mountain. My personal tally was 90 books for 2015, no mean tally (in all modesty :P) and yet, there are books left by the roadside that possibly I will get to someday. On a side note, my TBR shelf has gotten so unmanageable, that I have had to create a subfolder called Priority Backlist to prioritize within TBR itself. The other side effect of having so many releases to catch up per week has forced me to be organized for the first time in my life. I started creating yearly lists to read and also to capture what has been read (My 2016 TBR Shelf, 2016 Read Shelf). As I have mentioned in my posts in previous years (here and here), my reading habits have become extremely contemporary, with almost 90% of what I read being something that is released in the current year. Only in cases where a later book in a series I do want to catch up comes out, do I go back in time to read.

 

Physical books seem to be making a comeback according to quite a few reports. If that happens, that’s quite the reversal when the death of physical books was shouted from everywhere once ebooks starts gaining prominence and relevance. It may be a temporary fightback since the future is pretty much going to be digital. From my side, I barely read 3 physical books. Else, it has all been ebooks. As I never get tired of saying, the sheer convenience of able to read a book anywhere using a device that is with you the most (the phone) and the ability to seamlessly sync across devices, makes ebooks a winner.

 

2015 saw an amazing number of fantastic releases on paper and to a great extent, they lived up to it. What I have below is my curated, supremely subjective, extremely unscientific list of the best 2015 had to offer. While I do have the books in no particular order below, some books in this list will remain very close to my heart and for various reasons that I will detail below.

 

1. Red Rising/ Golden Son – Pierce Brown : Read this: If you love fast-paced operatic tales of revenge , class struggle and brutal twists

Golden Son

Easily, the best read of the year. My review description for the book read as follows, “If Lord of the Flies, Ender’s Game and the Hunger Games had a ménage a trios (with a helping hand from The Count of Monte Cristo) and produced an offspring, that would be this book” and I see no reason to change the description. Both books are brutal. Fundamentally trying to engineer a revolution, the class struggle led by the hidden agent, the chief protagonist Darrow, is a brutal read. Pierce Brown crafts an absolutely fascinating world and an eternal timeless struggle. With an absolutely unputdownable pace, compelling storytelling and bloody brutal violent twists, The Red Rising series is well on its way to be rated as an absolutely brilliant modern great

 

 

2. The Liar’s Key (The Red Queen’s War #2) – Mark Lawrence – Read this: If you love complex characters who you love to hate but can’t. Also, for black humor-based one-liners

Liar's Key

 

Mark Lawrence has yet to write a bad book and it’s amazing how he manages to craft a compelling lead out of the dregs that humanity has to offer and humanizes then. Jorg was an easy character to hate and yet root for. But Jalan (the lead character here) is different. He is a coward, a womanizer, selfish, capricious, a lush and yet Lawrence adds layer on layer to him, making what on paper seems an uni-dimensional character, greater. That is not to say Jalan becomes a hero, fair from it but there is something underneath that is shaped by circumstances past and present. Humor is never far away but the undertone is always gallow.

 

 

3. Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and The Fool #2) – Robin Hobb – Read this: If you love reading highly emotional, beautiful writing and deeply flawed, human and complex characters

 

Fools Quest

This book is truly wonderfully special as it has THAT Fitz moment we have waited, 8 books and (since I read the Farseer trilogy in 2005) 10 years for. But with that moment comes the dread, as you know any moment of high for Fitz pretty much leads to a debilitating low and that’s pretty much what happens. Robin Hobb remains one of those authors who will use 10 words when 1 would suffice and that hardly matters. You could have her write down a shopping list and I would read it. Exquisitely beautiful.

 

 

4. Escape from Baghdad – Saad Hossain – Read this: If you love Catch-22 and Three Kings, and want a slightly more accessible, relatable book detailing a war from our times

 

Escape from Baghdad

The best stand-alone book of the year, Escape from Baghdad is a fantastic book that almost brings to the life the absurdity, the hidden political allegory and anger of the movie, 3 Kings and Brian K Vaughan’s The Pride of Baghdad. You don’t need to be a genre fiction fan to pick this up. The book combines black gallows humor with a dose of slapstick and buffoonery associated with the inept, bumbling characters and war profiteering and chicanery in the simmering cauldron of Baghdad. The city’s history and mythology serves as a fantastic supporting character in this fabulous madcap tale

 

 

5. Nice Dragons Finish Last/ One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers series) – Rachel Aaron – Read this: If you love dragons, fast paced stories and underdogs. Also, if you love dysfunctional families

 

Rachel Aaron crafts a fantastic and fascinating world where dragons exist and can take human form. In this world, she introduces Julius Heartstriker, the youngest of the clan, a lazy, cowardly dragon locked in human form by the Heartstriker matriarch as a punishment for being totally useless. What follows is a breathtaking journey of politics and betrayal amidst intricate world building. With a no-hold-barred plotting, selfish and mad matriarchs, madder seers, there is hardly a dull moment in this action packed, humorous tale

 

 

6. The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) – Brian Staveley – Read this: If you love dysfunctional families and old-fashioned epic fantasy

 

Providence of Fire

Who doesn’t love dysfunctional siblings trying to kill, for a throne, manipulated by outside interests? Staveley’s debut novel was pretty much old wine in a new bottle. What Staveley does right is to address the justified criticism of the 1st book where the female lead got the short shrift. Here, Adare gets an equal role to her brothers as she learns what it means to be a politician and a ruler. The overarching stakes are revealed even as the invisible puppet masters reveal themselves slowly.  Staveley has got an easy pace and style of writing. This is truly epic fantasy done right and in the new age style

 

 

7. The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher – Read this: If you love air battles, new magic systems, non-stop action and cats!!!

 

Aeronauts Windlass

Butcher writes for the fans in all of us and he doesn’t disappoint with his new series. Set in a steampunk setting in a world built on spires, the non-stop thrill a minute entertainer hits the ground running (bad pun given we have air ships here). He introduces a motley bunch, juggles the POVs well and even has time to indulge in cat dramatics. As always, packed with humor and thrills, this looks like another winner and a series to stay

 

 

8. The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3) – Brian McClellan – Read this: If you love Brandon Sanderson style of storytelling and bitter-sweet endings

 

Autumn Republic

An epic conclusion to the Powder Mage trilogy, the final book does not disappoint. The pace is as frenetic as ever but not at the expense of character development. The body count is high, the action is exhilarating and exhausting and the end is typically epic and satisfying. Gut wrenching and moving, even if you see the end coming from when the 1st book started. A tale that encompasses gods, mortals and privileged, the battle scenes are top notch and the politicking is clever.

 

 

9. The Prophecy Con/ The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic series) – Patrick Weekes – Read this: If you love Ocean’s 11, Lies of Locke Lamora, large and non-homogenous cast, witty asides and sarcastic retorts

 

Clever, wonderful, cute and entertaining, this is one of those books that you pick up and read when you are alone. Because if you read it in a public space, you cannot stop laughing out loud and thereby earning quite a few concerned glances directed towards you. The cast is really juggled immensely well and everyone gets a chance to shine. The pacing is breathtaking (literally as well) and the series ends quite neatly as well

 

 

10. Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Sebastian de Castell – Read this: If you love 3 Musketeers, swashbuckling swordplay, first person narrative and humor

 

Knights Shadow

Knight’s Shadow forced me to think up a new genre – the grindark. There is just enough humor packed in the narrative to hide the darkness that permeates through the book. Continuing in vein of book 1, our intrepid band of Greatcoats try to fulfill their dead king’s wishes even as the country rebel against them and pretty much tries to go up in flames. The action sequences are details and fantastic. The swordplay sequences are quite intimate and in your face and fast. The character dynamics are supremely awesome and each character has such a unique voice. The betrayals are hard and deadly and make this an entirely compelling read

 

 

Almost in top 10 (in no particular order)

 

  1. Gemini Cell – Myke Cole :Read this: if you like military fantasy, unique magic systems and conspiracies

Gemini Cell

 

  1. The Rebirths of Tao (Tao #3) – Wesley Chu:Read this: if you are a desk-bound internet warrior who dreams of saving the world and if you like voices in your head

Rebirths of Tao

 

  1. Generation V/ Iron Night/ Tainted Blood/ Dark Ascension (Generation V) – ML Brennan:Read this: if you like non-Twilighty Vampires, The Godfather and dysfunctional families

 

  1. Dark Run – Mike Brooks :Read this: if you like Firefly, space operas and awesome fun team dynamics

Dark Run

 

  1. Wake of Vultures (The Shadow #1) – Lila Bowen:Read this: if you like the wild, wild and weird westerns and kick-ass non-conformist female leads

Wake of Vultures

My Goodreads shelf for 2015

 

A Tale of 3 Autobiographies

Posted: December 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sporting autobiographies by their very nature are meant to be an exploration of the sportspersons’ highs, their struggles and their inner thought process that leads them to overcome the challenges to success. However, more often than not, it serves as a stage for settling scores and as readers, those are often the salacious details that get “leaked” and pique our interests. And in this twitter age of instant gratification, it was indeed no surprise that autobiographies of the sportsmen who graced the biggest games caused a fairly big stir. Each of these autobiographies had things quite going for it and the personalities to make you look forward to. Roy Keane, notorious for being outspoken no matter the situation and quite irreplaceable to this day in the hearts and minds of Manchester United fans. Kevin Petersen, enfant terrible or misunderstood genius depending on which side of the cricketing divide you stood. Sachin Tendulkar for well, being Sachin Tendulkar; Cricket’s favored child. Below are my thoughts on how each of them compare and what really worked as a reader going through them

KP

Inarguably, the one guaranteed to draw the most eyeballs especially in light of the acrimonious split between ECB and KP, this one lives up to its expectation. KP does not draw his punches and boy o boy, he sure as hell has a mighty go at all the injustice he has faced, perceived or otherwise. KP is fairly consistent in his praise towards all those who make him feel special and withering in his condemnation of those who cannot understand or give him special consideration. Reading through the autobiography, a few things stick through – the love for IPL (and no matter how much he professes otherwise, the money and glamor associated with it), the hectic non-stop travel in the life of the modern day sportsman, the loneliness and alienation of being away from the family and the clear sense of how much KP is different (in both a good and a bad way) from his teammates. As a score settling book, this is phenomenal. No one is spared from the ECB hierarchies to his coaches to his captains. There are sections of the book dealing with how he prepared and this thought process when taking on some of the best bowlers in producing defining knocks. There are also portions of the books for the other extreme when KP couldn’t even buy a run. There are discussions on the mindset needed, the butterflies in the stomach, the red bull run but really what comes at the end of the book is the constant (almost pathetic) need to be special and to be admired, loved, acknowledged and respected. There is a sense of bitterness permeating the book and frankly not too much of cricket. KP seems to be convincing not just the readers but himself as well that he deserves to be among the greatest players to have played the game despite how it ended.

Rating: 7/ 10 – Pluses for honesty and openness, Minuses for being bitter and whining

Roy Keane

The one thing that you are assured when you pick up Keane’s book is that he will be brutal in his assessment about anything, himself including and he does not disappoint. This being an autobiography focusing more on the 2nd half of his career – last few years for United and his managerial career; the hits (all pun included) keep on coming. There is no cow sacred enough for Keane not to touch but at the same time, the grudging admiration that he professes for some of this opponents is quite admirable. Keane was no Mr. Nice Guy in his playing days and that is reflected here, right from his first chapter where he deals with the Alf-Inge Haland stamp. There is absolutely no sympathy for those he sees as slackers and not committed enough. Dealing with old age and injuries form a chunk of his declining abilities as a player and how he goes about dealing with it (Hint: Not so well). What is quite interesting is how the same qualities that were his strengths as a player carry over when he becomes a manager and how the effect is remarkably different. Keane is fairly self-critical but unapologetic of who he is and how he deals with things. While as a manager, there is a sense of mellowing but the Irish temper still finds its way out. There are vague glimmerings of a reconciliation attempt towards Sir Alex Ferguson but it still feels very early days. Keane has never really forgiven Sir Alex for what is an apparent betrayal. He also does not harbor the same feelings towards the class of ’92 and does not hesitate to let things go by. What really comes through the book is that of a hard, unflinching man but its tinged with regret and a sense of what-if. Its absorbing and Keane is rather accepting of blame and his own shortcomings

Rating: 9/10 – Pluses – delivers in spades what was promised, searing and brutal, Minuses – for glossing over some of his own mistakes especially his confrontation with Sir Alex

Sachin Tendulkar

I would be lying if I said this wasn’t the most anticipated autobiography of the lot. Sachin the cricketer had an entirely uneventful non-controversial cricketing career. By saying the right word or by just being silent, the man steered himself through all political minefields adriotly and as a result, no one never knew where he stood on matters. If one hoped to get a better idea through the autobiography, be prepared to be disappointed. Apart from picking on some soft obvious targets, Sachin avoids any controversy. Reading more like a match report rather than an autobiography, this is a fairly pedestrian affair with exceptions being those chapters that deal with his family where his true feelings shine through. He remains quite conspicuous in his silence on match fixing, the match fixers, the spot fixing in IPL as well as cricket administrators while he goes with abandon after softer targets. Greg Chappell gets a fearful pillocking as does Rahul Dravid for his Multan declaration. He also has quite the go at the selectors for poor team selection when he was the captain. Another thing that comes across is Sachin taking credit for ideas that worked when others were captain. May be that really was the case but the sheer occurrence of those cases make it seem like there was no one else having bright ideas in the dressing room. The expressions of gratitude to all those who helped develop him, personally, cricket wise and money wise are profuse. There are descriptions of his fight from the various career threatening injuries and the low point he finds himself at. Some of these are quite harrowing and the struggle that a cricketer goes through on a daily basis to play even when he is not 100% fight is not evident when one sees on screen. Sachin as a foodie is a running theme and food features quite prominently be it loading up on salads when he did not have the means to friendly Indian families getting food for the Indian team in overseas conditions. Just in terms of a rather simple comparison, Sachin’s transition from playing local cricket in Mumbai to playing for India almost seems like a song in a Rajnikanth movie where he goes from pauper to prince instantly. The struggle for the 100th century and the constant reminders and expectations from one and sundry indicates the immense pressure that he came under

Rating: 5/10 – Overall disappointing and not really an autobiography but more of a match report. Not so well written by Boria Majumdar, hopefully this book was not so well written so that another biography can be published later with probably a truer account (earning a few crores more in a few years’ time)

Crashland

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Come out, you reluctant one. No, you really have to come out. Stretch your wings. Test the air. The sky beckons. Fly. Soar. Soar a bit more. You do not fit in the sky. The wings are cut. Crashland.

Top (Non-ARR) Tamil Songs – 2010

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

With part 1 & part 2 done, its time for the best Tamil songs of 2010 and it certainly was a decent year. While not having really awesome music as 2009, 2010 still threw up a lot of good numbers

5. Thediye Thediye (Va Quarter Cutting): Its one of those songs that I call sinusoidal :). The song waves and waxes, lending a very pleasant feel. Andrea again has the knack of singing songs of the kind that immediately catch the attention. This is easily one of the most hummable song and even without your own knowledge, you begin to hum the song. Quite superb.

5. Dhimu Dhimu (Engeyum Kadhal): Harris Jeyraj is second only to ARR when it comes to composing soft melodious romantic songs. Most of his songs seems familiar and this familiarity is his biggest strength. Karthik, the master crooner of the young brigade of soft songs, steps in here and as always does a phenomenal job. Watch his take when he goes “Ho Anbe, Nee Sendral…”. Outstanding. Again, Harris’ play using the female chorus is amazing as is the sax piece between 1st and 2nd charanam. And the song finishes on an awesomely strong note with the chorus and the sax piece overlapping. Harris is the man.

4. Thuli Thuli (Paiyaa): Lovely strings lighting up the song, this Yuvan Shankar Raja song is indeed a treat. Listen to the bass as the song starts. Totally sexy. Haricharan is at his mellifluous best as he lends an air of extreme longing to the song. Very clean rendering. The part when he goes “sel sel avaladul sel” as well as when he goes to high pitch on “Netri Melle…” are totally awesome.

3. Thee Illai (Engeyum Kadhal): Harris Jeyraj does surprise his listeners at times with some awesome left field composition and Thee Illai falls into that category. A haunting violin piece starts the song before rhythmic beats up the tempo on the song & Naresh Iyer steps into the song. Naresh Iyer is maturing as a singer amazingly and he carries this song beautifully. This song is not the kind one will love at first listen but after multiple listen, this is easily the best song of the album. Mahati’s voice complements Naresh’s perfectly. All in all, an exquisite song

2. Poongatre Poongatre (Paiyaa): A peppy song from Yuvan Shankar Raja and quite heavy on the guitar. There are not too many instances in Tamil music when the guitar has really dominated. (Nenje Thullipo from University, Kadhal Mazhaiye from Jay Jay being 2 songs that come to mind immediately and of course, Uiyirin Uyire from Kaakha Kaakha) Amazingly brisk song. If there is a singer who has impressed me continuously over the last couple of years, it has been Benny Dayal. He is simply energetic and zestful. Top marks for the instrumentation throughout the song and is no wonder this has been a phenomenal chart buster

1. Idhu Varai (Goa): There are songs and then there are songs. That would be one way to describe Idhu Varai. This has been one of the songs that has played on an infinite repeat this year on my pod. Starting off slowly with Andrea’s fairly husky Western tinged voice, the tempo gradually increases. The keyboard on the piece is simply outstanding and Andrea has done an fundamentally fantastic job. What makes this awesome song even awesomer is when Ajeesh steps in. Wattay take, seriously, wattay take. Amazingly sweet voice and an excellent contrast to Andrea’s. YSR, take a bow. For this song alone, I am willing to forgive you for all those songs you have murdered by singing them in your voice, in 2010

Other notables:
Neela Vaanam (Manmadhan Ambu)
Most songs from Madrasapattinam
Vaa Vaa Nilavai (Naan Mahaan Alla)
Nenjil Nenjil (Engeyum Kadhal)
Adada Mazhai Da (Paiyaa)

As I was compiling a list of top songs from 2010, inevitably it sequenced into a list of top AR Rahman songs of the year. It does help that no other composer comes close to the range and sheer variety of songs (across languages) that he produces in the year (It also helps that with ARR’s name behind an album, there is this built-in rating system that systematically rates his songs a notch higher than any other composer). Hence, this list is sequenced into Top ARR songs for the year and another post with top non-ARR songs for the year
Top 5 ARR songs for the year

5. Hello (Jhoota Hi Sahi): It’s a no-brainer that any song featuring Karthik & ARR would easily be among the top of any list that I make. Hello is one of the most quirkiest as well as the most unusual sounding song in the list. Karthik’s whispering voice (almost sounding back of the throat) lends an almost surreal tone to the song. However, this is mere seasoning to the song where the real flavor comes from the music itself. No one could use ring tones, dial tones, engaged tones and still make the song as enticing as ARR could do. The combination of Karthik’s eerie haunting voice and ARR’s synthetic telephonic music makes for an fundamentally awesome song

5. Beera (Raavan): An African styled chant and high energy beats, all echoing to Vijay Prakash’s awesome authoritative voice make for a heady folksy thumping song. In fact, like most ARR’s songs, its heavily layered, around 50 seconds into the song, there is a very soft stringed section which begin which segues into a klarionic burst around 1.18 mins into the song. Sheer brilliance

Note: I know I said top 5 but it’s such a difficult choice to make with ARR that I have decided to break my own rules and hell, if I can’t break my own rules.

4. Behne De (Raavan)/ Usure Pogudhe (Raavanan): This is really one of those songs in which one can notice a profound change in ARR from, lets say 10 years ago. The ARR of 10 years ago would have probably have started the voice in around 20-25 seconds but here he draws you with the music, makes you wait, almost to the point of tense-ness from where Karthik takes over. And what a brilliant take. Almost rhythmically flowing into the song with a voice expressing pain and anguish as well as wonder, Karthik is way beyond phenomenal.
Behne De:

Usure Pogudhe:

3. Call me Dil (Jhoota Hi Sahi): A soft melodious number, right up ARR’s alley. Soft lilting acoustic strings and Rashid Ali’s brilliant voice lend an ethereal charm to this song, and the lyrics are simply astounding and to an extent, pain filled. An exceptional song, easily one of the best of the year.

2. Naan Varuven (Raavanan)/ Jaare Udjaare (Raavan): Surprisingly left out of the album, my first introduction to the song was during the movie climax and needless to say it was love at first listen. ARR has simply become really the master of slow soft melodious numbers with his interplay of the piano and guitar strings. But where he really shines is he does not let the instruments intrude into the song and allows the singer (in this case ARR himself) to carry the song. Again, he gets the whole African flavor to creep in, especially when he goes “O Beera”. High marks for the lyrics especially in the Tam version, Loved those 3 lines of “Oru Pillai…. Athil Artham….Artham Puriyum…Vazhuvu Maaruthe”.
Tam Version:

Hindi Version:

1. Aaromale (Vinnaithandi Varuvaya): Wattay song, truly, wattay song. Truly one of the most different songs to have been composed by ARR. Almost reminiscent of a slow English rock song, this song is maverick-esque (if there be a word) in nature. Alphonse’s voice again is a non-traditional voice and seems to be a perfect fit for the song. The real beauty of the song is the mixing of the Western Rock as well as the Indian classical music. Malayalam lyrics with a violin accompaniment adds even more layers to what is already a mulit-layered song. A simply once-in-a-lifetime-out-of-the-world experience

1. Hosanna (Vinnaithandi Varuvaya): Another of the genre transcending music pieces by ARR. Starts off softly with a rap piece in between (in both English & Tamil) and again segues in a soft piece. Vijay Prakash again strikes gold for ARR along with Blaaze (on the rap) while special mention has to go to Suzanne for her mesmerizing humming lending an out-of-the-world experience to the song. The best part is just when you think the song is about to end (around 4:10), its picks up tempo and carries for another 90 seconds and the violin pieces really stand out. Truly astounding

Other notable ARR songs for 2010:
Raavan – Thok De Killi & Kata Kata
(Komaram) Puli (Telugu) – Amma Thale & Maaralante
Enthiran – Kadhal Anukkal, Arima Arima & Irumbiley oru Irudhayam

Visitors Location

Posted: June 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

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Booze. Drugs. Women. The three evils as a “Famous” Health Minister calls it (the combo is also called evil and not Indian culture by certain elements of the Indian political system that gained notoriety for harassing women found pubs. But then I digress, thats a topic for another discussion) is the main star of this modern day take on Devdas by Anurag Kashyap (He of the “Black Friday” fame and “No Smoking” in-fame)

Dev D

Dev D

Dev (Abhay Deol), a London-return brat comes( all shadiness intended, it was mentioned in the movie too) back to India after completing his studies, to hook up with Paro (Mahi Gill) more than anything and tries get down to business with her quite desperately. (Please to be pardoning the shadiness inherent in this post as the movie did not any double meaning anywhere, it was the wrong (or right) meaning throughout) Paro isn’t quite the shy demure girl and is quite desperate for Dev herself. A misunderstanding between Dev and Paro ensures that Paro marries a widower who falls in love with her and Dev unhappily sozzles himself on Vodka and passes out.

Next stop, Delhi where Dev (who now is quite the drinker, doper and what else not) is introduced (now that was polite) to Chanda (Kalki Koechlin), a college student in the day and a satisfier of fantasies at night. Chanda has a colored history of her own, wherein her MMS was sent across to all her friends and the entire country and led to her dad committing suicide and fast-forwarded her to her current profession. Chanda takes a real interest in Dev and becomes a sounding board for Dev. She tries to make him forget Paro who is happily married as Dev descends further into the depths of Vodka and drug induced stupor and commits a crime a la BMW case. And what happens next is even more liquid and substance abuse, before the movie ends.

2.5 hours is a tad too long a playing time and it reflects in certain scenes which are stretched like rubber. Abhay Deol as Dev is the self-centred, egoistic, pampered brat and does a reasonable job, considering that all he has to do is to guzzle tankloads of Vodka and look suitably sloshed, hung over and haggard in turns. Mahi Gill is quite excellent in her role as Paro, who despite being rejected by Dev, doesn’t descend into sorrow and gets on with her life. Kalki is quite brilliant as Chanda though the transition on how she gets converted into a high class courtesan is hardly convincing.

An interesting aspect of the movie is using songs to further the narrative though they really cant be called as songs. Emosonal Attayachar simply had the audience up while the rock version of it was also pretty amazing.

Overall, a different off-beat movie but definitely one after sometime you wish it would just end, which isnt a good sign for any movie. One positive thing to come out of this movie is for the company Smirnoff Vodka. It has been advertised so heavily that it owes a debt to Anurag Kashyap. Well, one never knows, Smirnoff might have been the corporate partner for it.

Rating – 5.5/10