Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rupee to Dollar conversion = Comedy

We were out shopping and D wanted to buy a new strap for his Timex watch, which he had bought in India. The strap he selected and got fixed to his watch cost $7. This was enough for S to see the lighter side - "7 dollar watch ke liye 7 dollar ka strap," he said, getting us into peals of laughter. D said, "Come on, its not 7 dollars, it cost me around Rs.600." S promptly replied: "So what.. It would have depreciated anyway... Still, strap = half the price of watch!"

Such conversion tactics never work. The value of goods is skewed if converted for every small thing, so the best is to compare value with goods from the same country. Then it works out perfectly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

AAA-6

Continuation of the All About America series, which is just a collection of facts which you might not have known. This is Part 6.

It is not good manners, in fact some might consider offensive if you sit occupy an empty seat at a stranger's table at an eatery/other public place. Usually there is always space, you will find a place to sit.

Tip graciously to the waiter. That means about 13-15%. This includes pizza delivery guys too. Interestingly, tipping barbers is also a must(i.e. if the barber charges $7 for a haircut, it is good manners to give him $7 + $1 or $2 as a tip. I really don't understand why, even when the barber is the sole owner of the shop, but you have to do it. By the way, haircuts are not always $7, my friends have to take an appointment and pay $15 at the place they go to).

Most of the fast food chains have their kitchens open to the public - as in they are not barricaded or hidden away from the public. This might be intentional to keep the workers from adding unwanted ingredients and maintaining 'open' standards in cleanliness.

Education in America, vs India: Another Nittian wrote a post on that, including many details, but I will say that most have the freedom to choose whatever they want, so the chance that they will excel in that field is high.

This might be catching up elsewhere too, but from what I have seen, almost every other smoker is female. And most consider it their 'right', citing the First Amendment where they have the freedom to almost everything. Hence banning it on campus is more tricky than an official order.

The biggest consumer of salt in the world is... USA. They use it to clear the snow/ice during winter(depression in freezing point), so you will find huge salt tents along main highways then.

Greeting anyone you are going to talk to, be it a salesman or a desk attendant with a Hello and thanking him is customary. Else its too rude.

The f word, fcuk, is just another common word. No special oops for it.

As a matter of fact, on television, 'bctih' is not censored, but 'shit', is. I don't understand why.

For all the informal clothing worn in classrooms and campuses, corporate wear is a level on its own. It is very, very formal.

Claiming, as a joke, in your blog or scrap or comment that you will cause harm to someone(e.g. if you don't delete that picture, I will kill you!) WILL land you in deep trouble(read: Police, jail, psychiatrist, etc.) if anyone decides to tip the authorities off. On the other hand, slander could result in a lawsuit..... You just have to be careful of what you say. What's more, I have read of a case where a Judge ordered a restaurant to pay damages to a customer for serving coffee "too hot".

Interested? Read previous parts here:

AAA - Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5




Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tamizh MA and Anjathe - My review

Tamizh MA/Katradhu Tamizh

Jeeva seems to enjoy psycho-based movies, given that he has found success with Raam and this one. I enjoyed Tamizh MA a lot, simply because it had a different storyline and wonderful performances. The director seems to be split between whether to make a film decrying the software industry or the downside of getting a Bachelor's in Tamil or a psycho movie, and settled for a mix of all these.

I found it very obvious that the story writer was pointing to the negative side of the IT industry in Madras all through the movie. That aside, the idea is good; I'd rather write in points.

  • I was wondering... Which University offers both Bachelor's in Tamil and Engineering? Jeeva's roommate was for Engineering, though it may be possible that they were in a hostel outside the university. University of Madras used to once upon a time, but I think this movie is not from that era.
  • I liked how Jeeva's wise saying in the classroom backfired on him when he was arrested by the police.
  • The newcomer Anjali is wonderful; she not only looks beautiful but has done a great job.
  • She looks a bit like Shrin(Azhagiya Asura song).
  • The twists of fate through which Jeeva loses his dog, family and teacher are... indicative of the strain the story writer wanted to put on the character, driving him further into madness.
  • His infatuation towards Anjali, throughout, sending her gifts, tracking her down indicate his deep love for her, which he finds difficult to sever after meeting her in Maharashtra. I wonder why she changed her character towards avoiding Jeeva when she was in interior Maharashtra with her uncle. Maybe she was looking forward to a fresh start in life.
  • The background music is apt for each scene and camera angles with the locations have a realistic touch about them.
  • The 'mystical' journey undertaken by Jeeva is like a path taken by many to find the 'truth in life' or the 'substance of life', crossing roads with hallucination and discovering the inner self.
  • I thought the confrontation in the software company was a bit too much, but I laughed when he teased his friend because he had taught him English for his placements. It happens.
  • The one-on-one with the Call centre guy was hilarious, but over the limit again, in an effort to show the disturbed mind of the hero.
  • Overall, its a different film; highlighting an 'issue' in Madras city and making an off beat storyline work.
I feel that such movies, along with Anjathey keep up the standards in the industry, showing that non-commercial themes are also viable and most important, we have an audience which responds equally well to well-themed movies.

Anjathey

The director along with the screenplay-writer and story-writer seemed to have decided to make a completely new film, notwithstanding the success of Chithiram Pesuthadi(which I have not seen).

A free flowing camera, rather than a fixed one, brings an effect seen mostly in Hollywood, like the opening scene, the blank sky and then the actor. The story on the outset might seem normal - bad guy becomes cop and good guy becomes villain. It's how the characters have been handled, the scenes in between and the acting that make the movie stand out.

Similarly, the director wasn't afraid to play with shadows and zooming in and zooming out. He clearly wants to break free from the norm. But, this is where Shankar/Mani Ratnam stand out - it is very difficult to shoot real closeups of the actors- that involves familiar actors and exceptional camera.

I loved it when all the language used in the film was completely natural - Madras dialect, the IG speaking mostly in perfect English - an effort to maintain the flow.

The casting, if it had big heroes - like Vijay/Surya, would have made the film a sure blockbuster. Definitely. The current cast did have shortcomings - Satya(Narain, the cop) and Kiruba(Ajmal, the cop aspirant) at times show that they need to improve their skills - but its not bad either. You know they aren't great as yet. Casting physically challenged and physically disabled persons in the movie is a nice ploy - it not only plays on your heart, it also gives a special flavour. As an example, the physically challenged guy couldn't run, whereas Prasanna(villain) leaves him behind only to shoot him dead. As with the physically disabled guy, who tries to point with his amputated arm, waving it around... some of the subtle factors.

Vijayalakshmi as the sister, does well, keeping her acting straightforward. She is as beautiful as a wild flower in a field, i.e. of the local crowd yet stands out.

I didn't expect Kiruba not to clear the exam, I was pleasantly surprised. Kiruba's character is interesting, because it neither embraces evil completely, nor leaves it behind. Fate, as it would have it, transformed him into a society-changing guy. It was weird to note that Satya cleared the exam/interview by malpractice, rather than by the ardent-studying we see in other films.

I took a while to confirm that the villain was Prasanna. He could have done slightly better.

The kidnappings were novel, I am curious if they actually take place in real life in that manner.

The final climax was not seamless, it was mainly like a wild goose chase, you keep wondering what will happen from which direction. Not that it was not good.

I believe that a movie is successful not because of the first tier of actors, but because of the supporting ones. All of them have done a great job. They seem to be picked off a stage show, because rarely do supporting actors support so well. It greatly shows that the director aims for an as real-to-life-as-possible film as possible.

I found a couple of gaffes in the movie.. In the scene when the kidnappers call the IG's home, and they listen in on headphones, Satya seems to hear the kidnapper's voice and discovers it's Kiruba's, which means it should have been quite loud, so even though they were in another room, Kiruba should have heard his own voice. A long shot, though.

The background music reminded me of Jaws a lot, the director clearly wanted music matching his scenes, so its unusual to cycle between 'tragedy', 'racy' and 'soft' in a matter of minutes. I grant 100 on 100 for effort, 75 for the actual performance in the background music.

The final scene, when I discovered Kiruba had been restrained by his sister to keep him from running away with the handcuffs, plucked on my sympathy strings, because, it said a lot.. the sister didn't want to let go of her brother to evil... the brother wanted to escape to keep his 'loyalty' to the one who had given him money... yet the brother didn't want to harm his sister.. and in the ensuing melee, it is shown that you will be punished for being a criminal, regardless of your love for your sister/allegiance to friendship.

No wonder this film was a box office hit... I only hope, pray, to the director, that he not screw his next film by signing on Captain/Sharath Kumar/Jayam Ravi, instead he continue his current thought process of casting interesting, new faces with a radical script.

It is such rich movies which keep the industry from buckling under the heavy weight actors and producers. I feel so nice after watching them. Hats off.