Thursday, May 25, 2006

Going Away for the Long Weekend

We are off to LA and San Diego for the long weekend starting tomorrow.

For the first time, i am going to be travelling by a Chinese Tour Bus and not drive, so will come back and blog about the experience.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend and Travel Safe!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code- Movie versus Book

It was a rainy weekend for the Bay Area folks. Managed to convince and drag special K to watch The Da Vinci Code movie on Sunday, inspite of the critics giving it a C+ on yahoo movies. Like most folks, i was hooked onto Dan Brown's book a while ago and then went on to read other Dan Brown novels. Anyways, wanted to blog about my experience both in reading and in watching the movie.

Let me start with the movie.....Inspite of the not so good reviews that it received, it is at the top of the box office weekend releases making a $77 million just within the US. The most fascinating aspect of the movie even before its release, that has been tagged with the high-profile book is its overwhelming public interest and controversy. In fact, i believe that the extra security, press coverage, protests world over etc. all added the boost and expectancy to the movie. A huge chunk of the movie's success has to be attributed to the success of Dan Brown's work of fiction that has generated both the curiosity as well as the displeasure of Christianity followers world over.

What I liked about the book:
When i first started reading the book, my first one by Dan Brown, i was amazed by the fastness with which i turned pages to keep reading. The contents covering a wide range of topics such as the history of Christianity, the Holy Grail, Priory of Sion, the works and paintings of Da Vinci, sightseeings of the Louvre in Paris etc. woven perfectly into an interesting tale of fiction.

What i liked about the movie:
This is one of those movies that every individual who watches it is going to have their own opinion of. Basically, there would be two categories of audiences- those who have read the book and watch the movie, like myself and those who haven't read the book but watch the movie. Tom Hanks fits the role of Harvard symbiologist Robert Langdon only to a point and could have performed better. Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu has been picked for her French accent, but could still have emoted better in several scenes. The albino killer monk really matched Dan Brown's description and Teabing'c character were well transformed on the screen.

It has been a while since i read the book and when i watched the movie, the book kept coming to me. With the numerours twists, plots, codes to decipher, flashbacks etc. in the book along with the other Christian concepts, i always had to keep up with what i was reading and the movie made it complete and clearly more understandable for me.

Finally, from a neutral perspective as a non-Christian, i keep thinking about the controversial elements that this movie has kindled and upsetted people and drew my own conclusions. On a personal level, except for the core fact that Jesus, the son of God had an offspring with Mary Magdalene, i thought that the dialogues spoken by Tom Hanks portrayed Jesus as a mortal with diving powers or a divine soul born in a mortal universe. Of course, its extremely hard to believe and accept that Christ has left behind his bloodline, it does shatter/ question the belief system of the church that Christ was single, lived and died as a savior to protect his followers on earth. The portions of witchcraft and the periods where women were burnt alive, existance of the Priory of Sion and certain other factions of the book/movie have distressed and angered the Roman Catholic Church and its followers. But, amidst all the protests and negativity expressed by the religious groups world wide, it looks like the movie hasn't suffered a loss at the box office.

Would be interested in reading some of your thoughts on the movie, especially from those who watched it without reading the book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Summer Release Movies to Watch

After a gap of not seeing any good movies being released, i am looking forward to some of the upcoming summer releases. In Tamil Nadu, after the election fever has subsided, and with the onset of the summer heat at its peak and schools moving towards their vacation time, Tollywood is gearing up for some good releases.

So, here goes my list....

Movie: The Da Vinci Code
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian Mckellen, Jean Reno and others
Directed by: Ron Howard
Expected Release Date: May 19th, 2006 worldwide

Good Reasons to watch: The book written by Dan Brown was a runaway success, inspite of the controversies.

Bet you didn't know: India puts "Hold" on The Da Vinci Code. Although, the national censor board has cleared the film, the government has temporarily held up the release of the movie after receiving complaints from Catholic groups. India is a democracy and is home to 18 million Roman Catholics amongst its Hindu and Muslim population. All this is owing to the fact that the book and movie's premise is that Jesus married his favorite disciple Mary Magdalene with whom he bore children.

Tamil Movies:

Movie: Pudhupettai
Starring: Dhanush, Sneha, Sonia Agarwal
Directed by: Selvaraghavan
Expected Release Date: May 19th, 2006

The Hype about this one: It is the come-back movie for the Dhanush-Selvaraghavan pair of brothers and portrays the tough character of a gangster played by Dhanush. After Dhanush's acting failed to make box-office hit in Balu Mahendra's Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam, this movie is said to make a difference to his career graph. Sneha's role of a sex worker/ prostitute is said to have been portrayed well.

Bet you didn't know: Dhanush is soon to become father!

Movie: GodFather
Starring: Ajith, Ajith, Asin
Directed by: KS Ravikumar
Expected Release Date: Early June 2 or 9

The Story: 3 Ajiths, one of them being a eunuch, form the cruz of the movie. Rumors have spread that the other character Ajith has shades of the Marlon Brando's role from the original English version. The trailer seems to have every bit of KSR's colorful and rich style.

Bet you didn't know: Ajith and KSR have personally invested money on the movie owing to its financial crisis from the producer's end.

Movie: Jillendru Oru Kadhal
Starring: Surya, Jothika, Bhoomika
Directed by: New comer Krishna (asst. director under Gowtham)
Expected Release Date: June 30th

Good Reasons to watch: The magic and chemistry between Jo and Surya who are soon to become a wedded pair.

Bet you didn't know: Asin walked out of the project as she felt that the second heroine role wouldn't fetch her fame and Bhoomika gladly accepted the spot.

Movie: Vettayadu Villayadu
Starring: Kamal, Jothika, Kamalini Mukherjee
Directed by: Gautham Menon
Expected Release Date: First week of June,probably June 2

Movie with tons of obstacles: After going through several barriers, starting with the suicide of Kaja Moideen, this movie has been in and out of courts and atlast seems to have been completed and ready to be released. A story of a 40 year old cop who works with NYPD, this would surely be a treat for Kamal fans.

Movie: Fanaa
Starring: Aamir Khan, Kajol, Rishi Kapoor
Directed by: Kunal Kohli, Yash Raj Banner
Expected Release Date: May 26th

Reasons to watch: It is the comeback movie for Kajol after child birth and she pairs with Aamir who happens to be a terrorist in Kashmir. Rishi Kapoor as Kajol's father and Tabu in an important role add weightage to the movie.

I am sure that each of you may have your own list of other tamil movies to add, but these are the top ones to watch out for!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend

Happy Mother's Day to All Mom's!!!

Mothers are special to everybody and no matter how ever older you grow, you would still remain young in your mom's eyes. I have often tried to comprehend the difference in relationship between a mom and her son versus a mom and a daughter. Both son and daughter share a precious unique bond with their mothers that has evolved over time and continues to exist.

The concept of celebrating "Mother's Day" is western and is also spreading quickly to places like India etc. Its yet another occasion to have a sale in every store, have mother's day brunches, cards, gift baskets etc. I am not sure about mom's in this country, but many Indian mother's are extremely sacrificial and ask very less of their children. When i talk about buying a gift for my mom, who happens to be here with me this year on Mother's day, she says- Oh, i don't want anything. Just remain happy with your husband and live healthy. She reads the numerous sale advertisements that come on our daily paper and says, Why don't i get you something for Mother's Day, instead of you buying me a gift.

Well, most Indian mom's lead a very simple life. The memories and images that i carry of my mother are her waking up daily to make my morning cup of bournvita, making and packing lunch for me be it to school college or work, running around to attend to my dad's needs and get herself upto the office(she was a working mother). In the afternoons, when i was back from school, she would call to check on me if i had my food, started my homework etc. and in the evenings she would come back and make dinner and tuck me in. She has always taken extreme care of giving me a healthy diet, my vitamins and also in making sure i work out and lose weight. Her passion for cleaning my apartment in the US, organizing my kitchen, making podis and also reading up on career trends for my profession will always be cherishable.

I am sure every one of you would have a lot of memories of your mothers, make sure that you let her know that you value the things she does for you, even if she is in a faraway land, praying for you and learning to come online and type/chat with you.

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Chennai- A Cultural Blend of Life for All

"A picture is worth a thousand words"

I am a firm believer of visuals and love to make my blogs appear as colorful and attractive as possible. It never ceases to amaze me about the cultural changes happening in Chennai, no matter, how many times i hear about it from family and friends or read about it on papers.

Although, we keep hearing that Chennai has now become a cultural potpourri for youngsters and the BPO boom has changed the pace of lives and activities in the city,
there is a lot more to Chennai than just that. Its been 2 years since i last visited and i try to keep up with the hot new happenings, and have my own impressions about this city where i spent 21 years of my school and college growing up.

To me, Chennai has always been a cultural medley of the traditional/conservative and the modern folks. The uniqueness about this city is that it caters to all kinds of people in a variety of ways. For instance, the traditional south indian carnatic music concerts/kutcheris, dance and temples have always been there. Although, this is predominently visited by the middle and old age community people, there are a lot of youngsters who expose their talents every year- proof of it can be seen at the December music season in sabhas.There has always been the Nalli and Kumaran silks saree shopping,crowds of Ranganathan Street, Pondy Bazar and Naidu Hall shoppers to add to this. Fragrant jasmine flowers, hot chips and Marina/Besant Nagar beach outings with a group of friends in two-wheelers have all been present.

On the newly evolving lifestyle, trendy coffee shops, shopping malls, expensive eat-outs with varied cuisine choices, disco and pub hopping, partying into the wee hours of the night, tight cotton short top kurtas, jeans etc. are adding fervor to the youngsters lives in this metro city. I guess in some ways, many of these youngs adults who have comfortable paying jobs are now working hard and partying more. Its these folks that make the headlines and gossip columns stating that Chennai has lost its conservative touch and has become a loose environment for bold youngsters.

So, is all this just bad news for the city's image? My answer is both Yes and No. I am glad that the work culture has improved and people are giving importance to academics, its not just engineering alone anymore, but other fields such as marketing, sales, arts,etc. seem to be evolving and jobs are being created for many. Its good to break barriers and norms to blend in with a group of co-workers in order to be more outgoing and have a better overall personality. The middle class folks definitely need that kind of exposure and not just being book worms and getting top scores in exams. In some ways, the social mixing is good, as it doesn't make you be a loner. The parent and elders need to take into account this kind of transformation and encourage it positively, for example, if your son or daughter wants to work in a pizza hut to earn a few bucks to become independent, its a good thing. Its not wise to say, just stay home and study, we will give you the money. But, at the same time, the young adult must recognize this and not misuse the freedom given to him/her and lose out on academics by just hanging out in pizza places, coffee joints etc.

In conclusion, i feel that Chennai is strongly evolving to become a blend of the old and new inspite of the modern additions. It is the same crowd that attends the Sanjay Subbramanyam, Nityashree kutcheris that also hang out at Shankar Mahadevan and Zubin Mehta's concerts. It is this crowd that distinguishes the BGM in an Illayaraja tune and compares it to the rock n roll rhythms.

Let us go with the flow and always keep in mind that Chennai will still remain a place that has the ancient Kapaleshwar temple, Santhome church, Thousand lights mosque and also is making room for Quickie's Coffee Pub, Zara Spanish Bar and the LifeStyle Shopping Malls.

Happy Weekend!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Taureans

I believe in sun signs and am an avid reader of Linda Goodman's books and several other authors who discuss zodiac signs and their traits.

Today, being a special day for me, i wanted to wish my fellow Taureans all over a Very Happy Birthday. Although, the taurean symbol "bull" denotes the stubborn streak in Taurus folks, folks born under this sun sign have also a warm heart and a reliable nature.

Famous International Taureans who share this date with me are:

Dr. Benjamin Spock- Child Specialist
David Beckham
Roscoe Lee Browne- Actor

Famous Indian Taureans are-

Actor Ajith- May 1
Satyajith Ray- May 2