Monthly Archives: January 2010

The issue of languages

Two reports in the newspaper-one last week and the other today had a common thread between them-language.

The first one was about the state of affairs in Maharashtra.  The Government had earlier ordered that in the case of getting a taxi permit, the applicant should be fluent in Marathi.  Fluent in the sense to be able to read, write and speak.  The other condition was a bombshell.  The applicant should have been a resident of the state of Maharashtra for at least 15 years.  15 years! They could have declared openly that only those who are born and bred in Maharashtra can claim a taxi permit.

Among the hue and cries(most of the migrants there are taxi drivers as it is the easiest way to gain employment and gain topographical knowledge) that greeted this announcement and to the irritation of the Shiva Sena, the Government retracted it’s earlier stand and claimed that non Marathi speakers and non Maharashtra residents can also claim taxi permits provided they are fluent(in this case to speak only) in Hindi, Gujarathi and other North Indian languages. What a show! Next they will be claiming that all sign boards in Delhi be written in Tamil also to allow Tamilians to ‘read’ properly.

The other report was in today’s paper of Indian Express page 5. It was about the Madras High Court’s rejection of a plea to restrict non-Tamilians in Tamil Nadu filed by a member of the Hindu Tamizhar Movement(watch the contradiction in the name folks – Hindu Tamizhar.  It is evident of the group’s confusion in forging an identity).

When the Indian Constitution does not restrict the freedom to move anywhere within India and settle any where as long as it is legal, it is surprising how these people find fault with the other fellow for the simple case that he does not speak their language.  True, I accept that the residents of a particular state is deemed all privileges than any one else, but in this case, the demand of ousting all non residents of the state for the sake of illiteracy in the local language is too much.

There are people in Tamil Nadu who are residents but are illiterate in the language.  They do not know to read and write the language.  Because they studied in the English medium and took Hindi/French/German/Malayalam/Sanskrit/Telugu as their second language. There are film stars and industrialists in Tamil Nadu who do not have Tamil as their Mother Tongue.  There are even politicians who do not know Hindi and English but go to the Parliament and stumble in replying to the questions.

In Maharashra the condition is even colorful.  Lots of people from southern states go there on job assignments/education basis.  Do they all have to know Marathi to live there? The issue of languages is not restricted to the issue of taxi permits, but is blown completely out of proportion here.  This is the case in almost all states of India.

When the law of the land does not restrict movements of it’s citizens to any parts of the country, who are these people to do so? Whatever gave them the rights to beat up their fellowmen and claim to be guardians of a language which they seldom understand fully?

Fight for any cause, people. But understand the roots of that cause thoroughly before causing mayhem to your fellowman.


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India 2020?

60 years have passed us. A momentous 60 years. Enough to make us achieve the pinnacle of success in all fields. Enough to make people admire us. Enough to make our voices be heard at the forefront of every important event. But have we? have we proved ourselves worthy of the 60 years that have passed us by? Have we made use of those 60 years gone by? No, it seems.

we speak of development in all fields. Yet there is a contradiction here. we have a rapid industrial boom going up. our farm lands are shrinking. Farmers commit suicide unable to sustain their lives. As of the latest stats, 2 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last 12 years in India. we boast of the intellectual capabilities of our software engineers-the product of IITs and other technological schools and celebrate ‘Pravasiya Bharat Divas’ every year to honor those men and women who contribute to our wealth. But we have children here who are denied their rightful share of education for want of money. For idiotic reasons. Who are doomed to work as labourers and forced to beg for a day’s meal.

The recent report in the Indian Express(Coimbatore edition) on 25/01/2010 page 2 is a stark example of where we are really. The report is about a Tribal school in Anaikatty area near Coimbatore which has expelled five tribal girls (of the Irula tribe) citing poor performance in studies, fearing a drop in their results. Shame on us. Shame on them. Shame on the education system itself.

Education is a crucial factor in any person’s development. Education is considered sacred in India. Yet it is here that such foolishness is staged. If the school is so concerned about producing 100% results, they ought to have done the following rather drive out those hapless girls:

Admit only intelligent students.

Monitor the performance of the students and help them out in case of any problems.

Instead, they are concerned about marks. Marks. Bloody marks. Does scoring 100% make you intelligent? Does scoring 100% teach you to face the world? Does scoring 100% ensure you a job? Can those people answer these questions? This is the case with over 90% of our educational institutions-schools and colleges alike. Education has become a business. It is not service to society. It is a money making busines.Why don’t they go and do something else like run a bank or finance company?

The recent move by the Supreme Court issuing notice to the Government to de-recognize 44 ‘Deemed Universities’ (deemed or doomed?) for their poor quality is but a tip in the iceberg. And 17 of them are in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

And we boast of a vision 2020. I am not blaming Dr. Kalam and Dr.Y.S.Rajan for their vision statement. I am rather holding accountable those responsible for failing in their duty of making it a reality.

Then why would there not be a brain drain? Why wouldn’t our intelligent students flock to US and UK, Australia and look for better opportunities? They don’t have it here. Quid pro quo. We have all in us. Yet we do not utilize our stock of good things.

Denying education to children-that too to the girl child on flimsy grounds on the base of caste(that is a horrible viral infection throttling our improvement, I say) is a shame and a crime for which the responsible persons should be punished severely. Such a school that boasts of results but fails to recognize the potential value in a student is fit to be closed. Not fit to be run.

Time we take this up seriously and not cover our backs in our mentality of making money. Time we make a call to take out these weeds.

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The Thomas Crown Affair

There are few movies that make you sit up and watch. Yet there are fewer which have an interesting, brainy plot with a fantastic performance by the leading star cast. Even more there are a handful which makes you want to watch them every time they are screened. ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ (1999) starring Pierce Brosnan (Tomorrow Never dies, Golden Eye, The Tailor of Panama), Rene Russo (Lethal Weapon 4, Tin Cup), Faye Dunaway, directed by John McTiernan(Last Action Hero, Die Hard 3) fits the above bill like a T.

I became a fan of Brosnan after watching his Bond flick ‘Tomorrow never dies‘. I am a fanatic Bond fan and Brosnan was the first ever Bond I got to see on celluloid. I fell in love with Bond in the way Brosnan potrayed the suave agent.

I chanced upon this movie when it was telecast in Star Movies as a late night treat. Something in the promos caught my fancy and I sat down to watch. I was thrilled after the first ten minutes.

The story revolves around a multi millionaire Thomas Crown who is very clever and possesses all the riches in the world and is a finance geek. If he wants a deal done, he gets it done. He wants to wreck a $100,000,000 boat to enjoy the splash, he gets to do it. He gets bored out with nothing to chase and so for an amusement, steals a Monet from the art gallery.  He enlists the help of some foreign crooks who do not know him, leaving them to face the music, getting away with the painting.

Along with the detectives who try to solve the case, an insurance investigator Catherine Banning(Rene Russo) joins up. Within days, she guesses that it is a fiasco and the culprit is Thomas Crown. Not only that, against the wishes of the detectives, she accosts Thomas Crown and boldly declares that she knows that he is the one.

Amused at meeting a mind like his own, Crown entertains her. She is unable to prove anything of his guilt-let alone duplicating his house keys and taking out the painting which turns out to be some thing else.

As the story progresses, Crown and Catherine are drawn to each other’s intellect and soon she is in a dilemma to decide whether she has to go with Crown or the job at hand. Crown comes to her resuce by promising to put the Monet back in the same place from where it was taken and that they can be together. Catherine is incredulous but agrees to the deal, provided Crown pulls it off.

What follows is cunningness at it’s best with Crown outwitting the entire detective force and the gallery people. Not only is the Monet put back in place (the Bowler Hat Man picture at the top is a clue to the last heist. Too much fun to spill it out), but as a ‘compensation’, Crown manages to take away another piece of art from under their very eyes. The way he pulls off the final heist makes you wonder at the direction and the editing.

More than the story(this is a remake of the earlier version of the film by the same name released in 1968 starring Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway), it is the intellectual game that engages your curiosity. From the way Crown meticulously plans the heist to his involvement with Catherine to ‘returning’ the Monet back, he is fantastic. Brosnan neatly pulls off the role with aplomb.

Rene Russo as the investigator who matches her wits with Crown and later as a woman trying to choose between her love interest and career is wonderful. The way she tackles Crown with a no-nonsense way and when later her theories are proved right, she rocks.

An enjoyable treat to watch and enjoy-both visually and also exercising your ‘grey cells’.

The Final Heist and Sinnerman-


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Aayirathil Oruvan

I have always been interested in history as a child and stories based on history, mystery fascinate me. I am a fan of Sandilyan’s Tamil historical novels, and the chance to see a period film, that too on a Chola king, was tempting enough to pull up my collar and get a ticket.

The interesting thing was that one of my friends expressed his interest to join me (I secretly pitied him for willing(?!) to join an eccentric like me in watching a film). I promised to enlighten him on any portions or dialogues which he did not understand. Off we went.

And I was not disappointed. Contrary to what some have been saying, I enjoyed the film thoroughly. I was drawn to the film by the interesting story line-past meets present. Was it time travel? Was it a Mummy in Tamil?  No. Something even more fascinating. For had they done a Mummy, I would have walked out in the interval. Director Selvaraghavan has proven his mettle and has justified the 2+years put in making the magnum opus.

The story is simple-an archaeologist(played by Prathap Bothan) is lost in the jungles of Vietnam looking for the long lost Chola dynasty’s heirs whom many have been searching for unsuccessfully(how the Cholas went there is told in a narrative in the beginning). His daughter Lavanya (a role intelligently and humanely portrayed by Andrea Jeremiah) joins the exploration team headed by Anita (a memorable performance by Reemaa) in search of her dad and they are assisted by a ruffian/coolie (Karthi Sivakumar in an underplayed role) who is concerned only about making money, history be damned. What transpires in their search is told in an engrossing 3hrs.

For such a vast historical subject, ample research has been carried out very well, raising the viewer’s curiosity. As the film progresses, you are filled with awe and admiration at the way the narration is taken up without a break or unwanted elements like a love duet or fights.Kudos to the team.

The director has excellently made out the mystery angle in the story to boost up the interest. From the first scene where the aged archaeologist gets lost to the anguish of Lavanya to the  journey via ship to the forbidden jungles to the last drop of the hat, the element of suspense is maintained. The various perils the team faces(actually there are seven such perils they are supposed to encounter) from violent tribals to snakes to quick sand, you hold your breadth.

The second half is a historical treat as you come to meet the long lost Chola king (a role marvellously lived by R.Parthiban. The man is a treat to watch!) and his tribe. The element of suspense in the pre-interval is worth, seeing as you will the excellent costumes(hats off to Eram Ali) and the re-recording(G.V.Prakash). Never for an instance do you think that you are watching a movie or that the role of the king is enacted by an actor. You see only the king. The king alone. Such is his persona and charisma. The dialogues are less in the second half, that too in Sanga Tamil (which you gotta listen carefully to get the gist), substantiated by music and emoting. The job has been well carried out.

From the moment the survivng party of explorers-Lavanya, Anita and the coolie come face to face with the king, it is pandemonium and a race to time. The end paves the way for a sequel. It is towards the end that Karthi’s role gets a meaning as his destiny is revealed. A destiny which is in itself terrifying and interesting. After Paruthiveeran, the man has done justice to the role and has chosen well. All the best, Karthi.

Reemaa steals the show with her acting prowess. In the way she manipulates the gang of coolies to her handling Karthi’s amorous advances (you must watch that MGR number in the first half, lol!) to the place where she loses half of the team to the instance where her character is revealed in the second half, the lady is out in flying colors. Beware all ye producers/scriptwriters-here is a beauty with brains!

Parthiban warrants no introduction. It is a pity that the man’s talents are never used well. Rarely do we get to see that excellent and brainy actor, this one being an opportunity he has used to the hilt.With the help of emoting alone, the man conveys the anguish and anger of a king whose rights are stifled for centuries.

Andrea as the silent Lavanya makes a good impact. From her intelligent calculations in tracing the lost city to the way she navigates the perils-especially the last obstacle before the interval, is a treat to the mind. The background music before the interval scenes is not to be missed.

On the whole, after a long time, a film I enjoyed down to the last scene and came out feeling that I had spent my penny well in choosing a film of my choice.


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Australia-some questions

The recent attacks on Indians in Australia and the blame game that is now being played raises a few questions:

Are we getting the clear picture on what is happening there? Is there some sort of press censorship implemented?

We read of only Indians being attacked. No other person of another nationality seems to be targeted upon. What is the reason? Is it jealousy on the part of the locals? Or partiality towards Indians alone? Are Indians becoming the punching bag of unwanted elements?

Important people have voiced their concerns on the Indian community being attacked – from Foreign Secretary Nirupama Roy to the External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna. What steps are they (the Government) exactly taking to safeguard the interests of our students?

Instead of voicing our anguish, why can’t we go a step further and take a bold action like closing the Australian Embassy in India(temporarily until matters come to a good end), to make a strong point?

Is it related to racism as the reports claim? Or is it a sort of frame up?

Is it just monetary related? Doesn’t seem so. The recent racial abuse and attack  on an Indian taxi driver banishes the idea of a monetary based crime. Whatever makes them target and beat up an Indian? If the same thing is done here, what will be the reaction?

After what we are hearing, are the students/professionals learning and taking the right decision in selecting a good place to study/work?

Will this make our people to improve the educational standard?

Is the buck being passed? No accountability is being taken up, either here or there.

Is this situation only in Australia or is it happening in US, UK, Canada and any other country also?

Is this part of a bigger picture/iceberg we are missing?

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As in a flash, ten years are over and we are elsewhere..Ten years -a decade is a great time to gain more, lose more, get wiser, grow plants, cultivate more friends, study more. In short it is a micro revolution for an individual as well as a nation.

Let me see what happened to me in those years..those were my formative years..I completed school, entered college in a hurry, finished with a confidence that I knew what I am going to do with my life and how I am going to handle myself forever, lots more.

The first three years of my college life is a blur save for few memorable experiences-some sweet, some bitter. By the time I came to the fifth semester, I decided what I was going to do. Too early to divulge that..

The next two years-my post graduate years in finance was an eye opener. I learnt a lot about myself, about my silver tongue, had my confidence restored back, won the respect and admiration of all in college and was the toast of my friends and peers.

The next two years were spent in searching for a job(for the sake of experience and exposure) which I got in a KPO company in Chennai. I migrated, wore the tag of a KPO employee, worked like a zombie with a heart, cultivated friends and admirers, answered my conscience call and quit. I wanted to explore new territories. I hated to tread the beaten path. As Robert Frost said in his poem ‘The Road not taken’, I decided to travel the road less taken. The walk has just begun. Let’s see how it goes.

Well, that’s it, folks..Will see more, eh?

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