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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Aaytha Ezhutthu
I listened to the music yesterday. Not many people seem to be too fond of it; I just have two or three �observations� of my own: I don�t mean to slot this music into any genre, or generalise its aspect too much, but very club-music-Daft-Punk-type stuff. Of course, this only goes to prove how dynamic Mani Ratnam�s tastes are. I also like the little jazz pieces that find themselves in the middle of things. One can expect a lot of �kalavai� in Rahman�s music: this one�s neat and tasteful.
In fact, I don�t think all of the tracks I have heard, would qualify as �songs�. Except for a couple of �sung� pieces, most, I suspect, would be prominent leitmotifs, themes etc.
I might sound dramatic, but just like the �aaytha ezhutthu� in the Tamil script, the music, according to me, cannot stand alone; neither can it begin anything (word). But when used inside a word, it goes to accentuate it. This music is meant to accentuate the visuals and not stand alone.
Aghthu! (Voila!)


9:24 pm

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ponniyin Selvan
Now, that is my Lord of the Rings.
If I ever get to make it into a film, then wouldn�t that be interesting?
If there is one book that deserves, and is just waiting to be translated into screen material, then to me right now, this would be it. I used to subscribe to the hardnosed and prejudiced conservative school of thought that believed that serials, written or televised, are pieces of bastard literature. Now I have changed my mind.
Bastard can be looked at as impure, but at the same time, bastards are not inbred and are therefore great for biodiversity (linguistic and stylistic diversity in the case of art and literature).
The serial medium brings with it a unique aesthetic that has its own role when it comes to public discourse and artistic expression. Therefore, granting the serial this legitimacy, I feel even more compelled to translate it into screen; the bigger challenge is in adapting it to feature-length for the big screen.
I can say with confidence that I can do it, because I feel Ponniyin Selvan, the serial, has not yet found its form. Or even if it has, then its greatness lies in its translatability.
Most characters, plot & premises, and events in Ponniyin Selvan, much like in The Lord of the Rings are not novel. I would not say that they were not so when they first came out. As these two works have been great source of inspiration for a lot many creators, they appear �regular� in retrospect: much like the Psycho shower scene. Nevertheless, there can only be one original shower scene; likewise despite a hundred clones and variants, there can be only one Nandini and one Vanthiyathevan.
Despite all this, what appeals to me most are the hidden treasures offered by Kalki. Unexplored story dimensions and characters. The first serialised telling of the story in the 50�s was suited to, and sufficiently pioneering for the tastes and sensibilities of the period. Half a century later, the same strategies of �telling� cannot be used for the same effect. Therefore, if I am to retell Ponniyin Selvan, I have to find out what my aim is. Is it to exploit the nostalgia of an older generation of readers? Is it to rekindle interest in a new generation of readers? Is it to reinvent it in my style? Is it to remain faithful to Kalki? Or do I do what Kalki did in his time: retell history imaginatively? (Of course in this case, it would be retelling creatively, an imaginative retelling of history).
In all these cases, one thing remains certain: the core of the story is timeless; it is merely the retelling that has a shelf life. Every artist wants immortality for his/her creation; and much like people finding partial immortality by passing on genes, works of art too passes on things they originally inherited from their sources.


6:00 pm

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The Lord of the Rings
I have successfully become an �also-ran� by completing the ritual of watching the three movies. I have not read the book, so I really cannot hope to enter the fellowship of fans nor can I be the Gandalf of trivia. From my point of view, all I see are the films and how they justify their existence.
Peter Jackson seems to have matured as a filmmaker since the first part. I for one, don�t judge a film by its Oscars (I never felt compelled to watch Titanic). So I will not stand judgement over the film�s aesthetic, technical or storytelling competence. All I would say is that if I were to make a film from a book that has caught the fancy of fans and has inspired generations of creators, I would style it differently. Therefore, my differences with Peter Jackson are purely professional ;)


5:59 pm

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Quiz #2
Try and guess what this is.


11:11 pm

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Lessons in Marketing Management
By a lucky turn of events, I got to conduct a seminar and lecture to a class of business administration freshers on Advertising and Marketing (After all, I am qualified to do that). This was my first time lecturing to students from a college other than mine, so I was a little jittery. As the class progressed, I got a lot more comfortable but it was still disconcerting to note that 80% of the students were from KyeraLa and my exombLes from Tamil TV commerziaLz and radio jingLes were unreazanabLy unreLadabLe.
But the biggest lesson in marketing management was not from Marthandam College, it was from a roadside eatery in Naagarcoil. Late one night after a gruelling day of work, we hopped into what seemed to be the only open eatery that served fresh food. Just as I sat down, I noticed the painted saffron lotuses that adorned the walls all around us. On further inspection, a large sized poster quoting from the Bhagavat Gita caught my eye. On the opposite wall was the National Highways department calendar with a picture of a smiling Pon. Radhakrishnan. The �kalla� table had the usual glass top under which were dozens of pictures of Hindu deities, Bharat Mata, A B Vajpayee, L K Advani etc. We had walked into a BJP place.
This realisation otherwise would be of no consequence, except for the surprising menu in the restaurant. For all the anti cow-slaughter rhetoric of the BJP, the place served� you guessed it: beef!
Kanyakumari district, and especially Naagarcoil has a sizeable population of Christians and other communities who eat beef. At least in one corner of the country, it appears that ideology seems to have lost out to market economics. I can see one local guy smiling big.


11:10 pm

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Make way for the DPM
On our way back to Naagarcoil from one shoot in Kanyakumari, we briefly became a threat to national security. Kaushal, our location sound engineer, and also a huge fan of NFS decided to take the wheel of the Maruti Omni. As we whizzed through the towns and villages of the district and entered the main highway lined with BJP flags and police constables, we developed a flat. Advani was to pass through any minute and there we were in the middle of the highway�stuck like a fat turtle on adhesive flypaper (that�s a Sidhuism). A nearby PC (police constable) rushed at us shouting like a madman. And we shouted back at him and told him to be a little more polite. After a while though, the cop turned a little mellow and bemoaned his unenviable job of providing bandobast standing day and night, and trying to protect the DPM�s convoy, only armed with wooden lathis. We quietened as well, and started to get the spare tyre in place. Meanwhile a DSP�s jeep rushed towards us to find out what the hell was happening. The IPS officer was disarmingly polite and even offered the service of a constable to help fix our flat. After 10 anxious moments for the cops, we calmly fixed the tyre and sped away. I only saw greater relief on the faces of the cops the next day when Advani finally left the district and crossed the border into Kerala.


11:10 pm

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Adventures
The documentary shoot completed, I got home a little fatigued and very tanned. It would be grave injustice to the truth if I said I have only good memories. As always, a lot of lessons learnt and experience gained.
There were a lot of firsts for me this time: first time in a small boat in the open ocean; first time I touched a fish (mind you, I didn�t eat it, just picked it up from the fishing boat and held it in my hand); first time I tried swimming in salt water (unsuccessfully); first time I drank kaL (toddy); first time I conducted a class for graduate students; and the first time I climbed onto a really great height and then realised that I am afraid of gorge-crossing aqueduct pathways.


11:09 pm

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