Monday, July 4, 2011


In my opinion, the whole JLP critics' argument that it is undemocratic for an unelected mass to coerce elected representatives into approving JLP is flawed. To me, the issue with this argument is the part where they call it as 'undemocratic' and not with disagreeing on the contents of the bill.

The mode to achieve democracy is not written on stone. Electoral process just happens to be one way to run a democratic state. Not the only one. If Anna was able to garner such a widespread people support through social network, in my opinion it is conceptually the same as that of an elected representative's people support.

And we must remember that whenever a state or any establishment's functioning is observed to be inefficient or unjust, loses its credibility and there is no better alternative, people go to streets and fight for their cause. History has always witnessed such uprisings. But whats important is that during this opportunity leaders and intellectuals have huge responsibilities of organizing the mass to achieve goals that better serve mankind by arranging for a more meaningful political discourse. So, the issue here is not their approach but the bill they've come up with.

The bill is purely founded on the populist notion to single out and blindly attack 'corruption' - Corruption is evil. Let’s fight it. There were no deep questions or concerns raised to analyze and understand the roots of this so-call-corruption. What is corruption? Can we define it? Will that be a universally accepted definition? Can a simple abuse of power be called corruption?. Before that, are we all qualified to accuse others as being corrupt? How many of us have not cheated on a test or logged an 8 hour timesheet without productively working 8 hours or used any kind of social network during work hours or cheated for a tax rebate or bought a black movie/show/game ticket or taken a recommendation/shortcut for a desired outcome or simply taken advantage of ignorance. If we assign a number to all of the above ‘misdeeds’ and add up it will easily surpass some of the shocking amounts we see in our dailies.
For argument sake, let's assume half of JLP supporters have passed the above test and qualify. Will they be able to objectively analyze each and every corruption outcry in this billion head-count country? Is that even realistic? Just for kicks, let’s take it little further and say they were somehow able to look into each and every case, serve justice and punish the offender. Then obviously it'd be a blow to such bureaucrats 'under-the-table' income. But then, how would the system balance out here? Or how would that bureaucrat make up for that lost income which was until then used to send his/her son to that private school or to save for his/her daughter's marriage or even just to keep up with the inflation.

Now, in the case of high profile politicians and corporates, where hundreds and thousands of crores of money is involved, the incentives, motifs and methods need to be uncovered and nullified which is way way easier said than done. Power and Greed is where the deconstruction will lead to and those have been human driving factors since our evolution. How would you address a ‘wired’ intent as an issue? It is no different than asking us to give up our jobs or our breads and just walk away.

I am not saying that it justifies them to continue earning through such means. I am merely stating that the problem is not as simplistic as what JLP designers and supporters have assumed it to be and on the contrary tangled with so many other issues facing our country such as population, lack of education, poverty, lack of tight law & order, unemployment, inaccesibility to resources just to name a few. Easily, a streetvendor’s inaccessibility to good healthcare or education or even just a fair treatment can be traced and connected to corruption and any of the above issues and vice-versa. There are no villains and monsters out there in the public arena. So, we need to control this urge to serve poetic justice and instead try to analyze and understand status quo before even thinking about a solution.

But, does this all mean such an uprising which is unusual for indian mass should fade away to nothing? No, this is exactly the right time to bring attention to some of the core issues facing India and arrange for sensible and rational discussions among economists, sociologists, intellectuals, policy researchers, law-makers and human behaviour analysts. Unlike ten years ago, demagoguery is at its best today in this age of social networking. An opinion, a view, a stance of any influential person (doesn’t have to be a celebrity or a politician or an academician) is immediately picked up by his/her acquaintances and they multiply enough to sway major decisions. An ‘India Against Corruption’ movement may be a great beginning, but by itself will only satiate some of the frustrations arising from misconceptions and will definitely not provide a long-term, progressive solution.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Battle of Algiers - Movie review


Brilliant moviemaking for a 1966 movie with some intelligent writing and poignant scenes, like the one where a gang of 8-10 year olds attack a tall, old junkie/alcoholic.

The series of scenes where Ali le pointe is inducted into FLN. Interesting rationale.

The conversation between Matthieu and press on revolutionary warfare and its different stages and a more similar exchange between Ali le pointe and Ben M'Hidi

Storytelling, for instance the scene where it starts from a woman staring at mirror to her
ending up planting a bomb!

Contrasting among revolutionaries - people who follow an ideology and have a plan of action
and those who are just hooligans acting on baser instincts and dying to bear arms, but faithful.


Actually I'm being picky here when I say the acting in certain scenes were a little outdated,
like this one where an innocent Arab is chased on the streets of Kasbah and arrested.

It is hard to not notice, when the whole movie was around terrorism - its rise and fall, why
the makers scurried through the insurrection, the next phase in a revolutionary warfare in the last 2 or so minutes like a footnote. For some reason, it didn't create any impact on me.

Couldn't stop reminding myself that its a 1966 movie - I don't know if thats really a con.


"Acts of violence don't win wars. Neither wars nor revolutions. Terrorism is useful as
a start. But then, the people themselves must act. That's the rationale behind this
strike: to mobilize all Algerians, to assess our strength."

Sunday, January 9, 2011


1) Cashback vs A Serious man

Movie: Cashback
Ben to Suzy "You can't rely on other people to make you happy"

Movie: A Serious man
In the Yiddish Prologue "I ask you, Velvel, as a rational man: which of us is possessed?"

2) Crazy Heart vs Mudhal Mariyathai

Movie: Crazy Heart
One liner: "Harder the life, Sweeter the song"

Movie: Mudhal Mariyathai
Lyrics: "Suga raagam sogam thaane"

3) Alaigal oyvathillai Vs E E Cummings

Movie: Alaigal oyvathillai
Lyrics: "unaku mattum ketkum enathu uyir urugum satham"

Poet: E E Cummings
"only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses.."


Saturday, January 8, 2011


"uzhutha pulithiyilum
un mugame theriyuthamma..."

Not sure when I really started noticing the lyrics in a song. Must have been in the past 5 or 6 years I guess. Only music mattered until then. Actually I was very much in that category of Indian moviegoers who try to compare Indian movies with those of the West and found it abrupt and quirky - although West has a 'musical' genre to cover this - when a perfectly normal couple jump into fashionable costumes and start to do lip sync for a song. But, I guess I am going to move on assuming one can argue that heightened feelings call for a different form of expression.

"antha saalaiyil nee vandhu seramal
aaru degree yil en paarvai saayamal
vilagi poirunthaal thollai illai
ithu vendatha velai"

This article will talk about Indian movie songs, actually tamil in particular. Before that let me start with a few pointers from history.

"setha kilavan
eluthi vacha
othai sothu veeramada.."

During the pre-independence era, when the transition from theatre to movies began with the first generation of technicians trying to understand this new powerful medium that demanded a whole new way of storytelling, songs were in fact able to find an easy way in.

"puratchigal ethum seiyamal
pennuku nanmai vilaiyathu..
kannagi silai thaan ingundu..
seethaiku kallaal silayethu.."

Before that, entertainment was limited to theatre and street show, which required expressions in a dramatic musical/lyrical form in order to hold the audience engaged.

"kalaiyil nee illai..
manamum thedavum varavillai..
pirinthathum purinthathu
naan enna ilanthenendru.."

Later they were the same theatre artists who ventured into movies and when they started making non-silent pictures mostly out of theatre plays based off of epics and mythologies, the the concept of songs and lip syncing for songs too migrated along.

"Mounam onrum oonam alla
Vaarthaiyellam mulumai alla"

Afterwards even though social dramas were being made into movies, songs were still an inherent part of it and were then used to preach morality, culture and tradition.

"vellathaane veeram..
kolvatharku illai.."

Although songs and music have been adored and embraced worldwide, when we talk about tamil songs, in this article it particularly refers to tamil ‘movie’ songs since independently made non-cinematic songs were not able to find much success commercially except for a handful of carnatic, religious and folk songs.

"boomi thiranthu kidakku
manusha paya manasu pooti kidakku"

Since movies were the primary form of entertainment and song video has always proven essential to promote a song, songs in movies were in fact helping out each other.

"sari endru theriyamal
thavarendu puriyamal
ethil vandhu sernthen naan
ethir paarka villai naan.."

It is interesting to observe the path lyrical content has taken in the past few decades from raw emotions to sophisticated ideas, from rantings to inner reflection, from bird-eye view to sharp details.

"kadaisiyile azhutha kanneer..
kaiyil innum ottuthadee.."

                                                                                                                 (to be continued..)


I must have been 12 or 13. Used to travel by bus for school. This one morning, there was heavy traffic near a certain railway bridge. When our bus was slowly crossing the bridge, everyone rushed to the windows on the right side to look at the railway tracks. About fifty feet away, there was a human body chopped in pieces and thrown aside. People who were sitting by the right side window seats obviously saw it first and began making faces and noises. People who were standing and sitting on the other side now wanted to see it. We all wanted to. Every one of us. Deep down, we all had an inkling of what is waiting there for us. But, still we all wanted to watch and register that disturbing image in our mind. This system has a strange way to engage itself. It wants to take a second look at the cute girl who just passed by. It also wants to watch a horror scene willingly. We actually started to make sense out of these images few years after birth. But then a child responds to a new toy differently than an old one. It appears ‘new’ matters. New idea. New scene. New design. New thought. New movie. New game. Live match. New relationship. New expression. New place. New restaurant. New dish. New music. New work. New project. New and New!

System must find novelty in its input grid more fascinating. Content selection and rationalization begin after novelty high is over.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This article is about how I uncovered this mindblowing truth in those eye-opening moments of… Alright, that was bullshit. You probably knew this already. Read it anyways.

In my school days during one of those summer holidays I was compelled to join a yoga/meditation class since my teenage restlessness concerned my parents a whole lot. So, I picked this friend of mine. He was a goof up like me. "No, I'm not joining." "There is free food after every session." "But only old people go to those things." "We can make fun of them." He giggled. "Still thinking?" "It’s not my thing man." So, I used verbatim the words my mom used though I am still clueless of what she exactly meant. "Do you want to end up like your father? Look at him" He was puzzled. "What do you mean? He's alright." "What?! Look at him. You see? Just look at him." What happened next was of historical significance which led me to write this article and I'll tell you why a little later. My friend turned around and looked at his father who was doing the exact same thing what my father was doing when my mom told me those words and what million other fathers from all around the world do every single day without any sense of guilt or regret - scratching their scrotum while watching television.

So, there we were at our first yoga session. The instructor was a tall lady in her mid-fifties with a slender figure and an authoritative voice. "You both are late. Since this is your first session, it is alright. If you're late tomorrow, you cannot attend the class. Are we clear? Now, both of you go and stand somewhere, watch what others are doing and do that." Everybody out there was quietly doing some exercises. So we just went and stood there and started shaking heads and hands watching others. My friend was trying to imitate a bald guy who stood closer to him. Sooner that bald guy without saying a word just turned towards my friend and started helping him out. He was signalling everything like 'Don't talk. Keep your hands like this. No, not like that. Like this. Now, breathe.' I looked around and my eyes caught this pretty girl who was standing by the window by herself and doing some breathing exercises. So I just signalled to my friend that I cannot see the instructor from here and that I am moving to the other side by the window. So, I stood by the window right in front of that girl and signalled that ‘I joined today.’ She didn't say anything and just signalled back, 'Breathe'. With that began my journey into the world of yoga.

That day, after the exercises session was over, there was a meditation session. The instructor said, 'Here is what you're going to do. Close your eyes. And then, focus on your thoughts. But, do not begin a thought. Do not follow a thought. And do not end a thought. Clear?' First day I sincerely tried to do that. 'Oh no, there is a thought. No, no I'm not following that. How did that come in the first place? Did I begin that thought? I wonder if that’s ok. Am I following that thought right now? Damn it!' I opened my eyes and saw my friend's eyes were closed and his head was down. 'Is he sleeping already?' So, I later asked him, "How was the meditation thing?" "I'm feeling fresh now. I think it works for me, man" "Really? How did you handle the thoughts?" "I just tried to focus on my thoughts and didn't begin, follow or end a thought" "Amazing! So, do you snore when you do that?!" "Were you staring at people when they were meditating?!" We both burst into laughter. Then, we were kids but still I felt atleast I was not alone.

I’ll tell you some other time the uncut version of how I almost killed the instructor lady in one of those exercises session. Now we need to fast forward, so I can make my point and do something else with my life.

Fifteen years later…

My chick asked me one day, "Why do you always scratch there while watching television?" So, that took me through a reel of flashbacks, about those meditation sessions and everything. Now that I’m thinking about it, actually the system never stops to grind something. It keeps scratching something. There was never a moment of blankness to begin with and I don’t think we can play an outsider like that with a strange set of rules. It has been one series of thought chain since the beginning of the ability to think. Data availability began this and now there is always something to mull over with a necessity attached to it. System is always engaged.

It appears that’s what everything is all about. Engaging the mind. Everything is tied together, if you go down that path and reduce them all a little further. Music. Work. Travel. Play. Shopping. TV. Cook. Talk. Laugh. Gossip. Socializing. Religion. Hatred. Spirituality. Rational discourse. Philosophy. War. Love. Yoga. Scratching. My friend. Bald guy. Pretty girl. Instructor lady. My chick.  Just about everybody and just about everything.