KadalMR

Kadal – Movie Review


Alright, after close to 18 months in the making, legendary director Mani Ratnam’s Kadal finally released in Tamil and Telugu worldwide this Friday and I was one among the many to grab the first day first show tickets! After the huge hype surrounding Kadal, little can go wrong when geniuses like Mani Ratnam, Rajiv Menon, AR Rahman and Vairamuthu are holding the boat steady to the debut star kids Gautam and Tulasi.

But were they successful? Let’s see…

Cast

Gautham Karthik, Thulasi Nair, Arjun, Arvind Swamy, Ponvannan, Lakshmi Manchu

Technical Team

Cinematography: Rajiv Menon ; Editing: A. Sreekar Prasad ; Choreography: Brinda

Music Score

Music Arranged and Composed by AR Rahman

Lyrics by Vairamuthu and Madan Kaarky

 Story, Screenplay, Written, Direction

Story, Screenplay: Jayamohan & Mani Ratnam

Direction: Mani Ratnam

 Story

Arvind and Arjun are two people who are part of the church brotherhood. Both have contrasting personalities where Arvind is dedicated to god while Arjun is just fun and frolic. During their stay, Arvind catches Arjun red handed having an illegal physical relationship with a woman who works in the church. Arjun begs for forgiveness but Arvind nevertheless goes ahead. This sows the seed for the hatred between the two with Arjun promising revenge at all costs.

Then there is a seaside village where a prostitute dies and her little child still thinking his mother to be sleeping hugs her until Ponvannan visits and comes to know that she is already dead. Then it’s revealed that the boy is the illegitimate son of Ponvannan. The child gets rejected by every single person in the village which only provokes the kid to start revolting as he grows.

When he is 12 years of age he comes across Arvind who has recently moved into the nearby church to preach. He notices the boy, names him Thomas and shows him a direction in his life until he meets the two people who will change the very course of his identity – Arjun and Thulasi.

The fight between good and evil forms the crux of the story and who would ultimately wins over Thomas with a twist in the end.

Review

Now, let me come to my review of this movie. Kadal is a classic example of how even when a great director like Mani Ratnam, one of the best cinematographers in Asia – Rajiv Menon, and music by the Mozart of Madras – AR Rahman cannot save a movie if it’s got a weak storyline, mishandled screenplay and pathetic editing.

None of the characters actually make an impact on the audience and it’s really a tried and tested format of good winning over evil in a slow snail paced narration. Arjun keeps uttering that he is the Satan but hardly there are no justifying violence shown to the viewer to create an impact that he is a deadly menace which needs to be eradicated and the motive that Arjun mentions is too slim for a revenge of this order. But there are times a viewer will surely feel that there is too much amount of preaching in the name of God than real action on screen.

What is Thulasi doing in this movie? To be blunt, she is an enhanced fully grown version of Anjali. This being her first movie, she has certainly done a good job but not enough space to impress upon. For a second you find Laxmi Manchu out of the blue and in a split moment she is gone. In fact dead! Her character is more like an induced one just to create a turn on events when the story was going nowhere. And finally there is Gautam Karthik. Though this is his first movie, he has done a commendable job. This will perhaps kick start his career as a promising young actor but he needs to work more on the emotional scenes.

There are some very good scenes in Kadal which makes you to expect that something big is going to happen next but sadly all of them occur in the first 40 minutes and then on the movie unable to find a shore to land, sinks into the ocean without a trace.

Standout Scenes

  • First 40 minutes of the movie is brilliant. No doubt about it.
  • Arvind, who has come out of his hiatus, provides a calming effect on screen.
  • A good amount of research on fishermen has gone into the making of this movie and it’s really a commendable job.

Patchy Scenes/Drawbacks

  • Arjun’s character is not constructed properly to deliver the goods
  • Too many characters and lack of attachment to any of them.
  • Too slow narration and bad 2nd half
  • Why was Laxmi Machu there in the movie? Only God knows!
  • Editing by Sreekar Prasad

Technical Department

I was one of the many who was absolutely thrilled looking at the rushes of the movie but sometimes as in the case of many movies the story drops flat with so many loop holes. The editing is by far the most questionable thing in this movie along with the screenplay. For a person of Sreekar Prasad’s stature, we expect sleek and crisp editing but he fails this time badly. Then there is screenplay by Jayamohan and Mani Ratnam which has horribly gone wrong. Laxmi Manchu and Arjun are a classic example of bad characterization.

The visuals are brilliant and the scenes involving the violent seas, song sequences and many more keeps you mesmerizing that there are places in India that are way too beautiful that can give a stiff run to our Western counterparts! Rajiv Menon should really be lauded for this brilliant canvas.

Mani Ratnam is an intelligent director and there should absolutely be no second thoughts on this. Every director has his own share of hits and misses and this movie sadly will be part of his misses!

Music and Background Score

BTW, the BGM is by far the only thing that floats in this colossal confusion called Kadal. AR Rahman stands tall amidst the ruins and he has done a great job with his BGM and it’s his music alone that carries the snail paced movie forward. I had discussed the album and its songs in my exhaustive review here.

Final Verdict

Overall this is not a movie you will like if you had sky high expectations. This is neither a remake of Thalapathy nor a love story on the lines of Alaipayuthey. It’s a very ordinary story with clichéd characters set in a different zone with a screenplay full of loopholes and a weak story.

By the time you get out of the theatre hardly no one has a significant impact on you and you might be left guessing if you had really come to a Mani Ratnam film. This movie is a classic example of how high expectations and weak screenplay can become a greater reason for the movie’s downfall.

Kadal: A beautiful shallow beach with no corals…

My Rating: 2.5/5

Vishwaroopam

Vishwaroopam – Movie Review


The ever innovative Kamal Hassan made this movie in Auro 3D which turned out to be only the 2nd movie ever to be shot in that technology. After spending close to 2 years in development, pre-production, filming and post production, the film was finally set for an 11-Jan-13 release.  Then the DTH controversy which delayed the movie and it release was further pushed to 25-Jan-13.

When the DTH controversy seemed to be dying down, there came another one in the name of religious intervention. Even after the movie was cleared by CBFC, few Muslim organizations claimed that the movie was anti-Islam and needs to be banned. What came as a surprise was the way the Tamil Nadu (TN) State Government handled the issue and buckled down to religious politics. The movie was banned in TN for a high court review while the movie had a wide release (Tamil and Telugu) around the world. In India, the movie would be released in Hindi on 01-Feb-13. I finally got a chance to watch the movie on 26-Jan-13 at Prasads, Hyderabad.

So here goes my review of the movie after watching the Tamil version.

Cast: 

Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Rahul Bose, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shekhar Kapur, Nassar, Zarina Wahab and others

Technical Team:

Cinematography: Sanu John Varghese

Photography: Mahadevan Thampi

Choreography: Birju Maharaj

Art: Ilayaraja, Nancy Terryn, Steve Dutton

Editing: Mahesh Narayanan

Action/Stunts: Lee Whittaker

Costumes: Gouthami Tadimalla

Music Score Team:

Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

BGM Editing: Indrajit

Lyrics: Vairamuthu (Tamil)

Screenplay, Story Written and Directed:

Kamal Hassan

Story:

The story begins on a slow note only to pump your adrenaline to view one of the best made action thriller flicks in India. In fact you can actually compare this movie to any Hollywood action thriller. I am not going to divulge any information about the plot as it would ruin the entire movie watching experience to the prospective viewers in the coming weeks. The movie begins with Pooja Kumar discussing about her dancer-husband whom according to her is not the kind of man she would want to go around with. Kamal Hassan is a Kathak dancer who trains half a dozen girls and Andrea is one among them. Pooja starts to have an affair with her senior project director. Parallel to this marriage of convenience, there is also a terror organization headed by Rahul Bose who is planning to strike America for the 2nd time after 9/11.

The rest of the movie forms the revelation of delicate mysteries, haunting duals of the past between Rahul Bose and Kamal Hassan in the training camps of Afghanistan and their cat and mouse run to win against one another forms the crux of this story.

Standout Scenes:

-          Kathak dance by Kamal Hassan

-          The first warehouse scene. This is sure to bring down the roof when you watch in theater.

-          Training camps, Action Sequences, Cinematography

-          Scenes between Rahul Bose and Kamal Hassan

Patchy Scenes/Drawbacks:

-          The movie tends to slow down in the 2nd half

-          Though Pooja Kumar brings in the glamor quotient, at times she is little annoying

-          Not much footage for the supporting cast

Technical Department:

It’s one of those rare Indian movies that can boast of such technical excellence on par with stylish action thrillers like the Mission Impossible series. The Art direction team has done a stupendous and laudable job of recreating the rough terrains and bora caves of Afghanistan right in Chennai. The sets are original and the movie’s cinematography by Sanu Varghese stands out to be mentioned. He has done a great job by shooting the brilliant war like sequences in Afghanistan and handled the chase sequences in America with great finesse. Another important department that needs to be mentioned are the stunts and action scenes by Lee Whittaker and his team. The action scenes have also been done intensely. Special mention is required for the scenes between the revolting Taliban and the NATO forces, Kamal Hassan’s fight in the warehouse with the jihadis. The costumes are good but in this fast paced action and huge mayhem, it just passes off unnoticed. Overall this was a fantastic team effort by the Technical Team.

Music and Background Score:

This is the 2nd time Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio have joined hands with Kamal Hassan after his ambitious 200th film Aalavandhan. Except for the Kathak exponent choreographed song, none of the songs actually take any screen space in this fast paced thriller but travels along with the movie forming a great background score. Suraj Jagan’s renditions for the title song set the tone for the movie which wouldn’t stop until the end credits roll. The background score edited by Indrajit is also sleek and wins applause as it turns to be a huge plus while watching the movie. Vairamuthu is a 6 six time National Award winner who needs no introduction. His lyrics (Tamil) carries loads of information for someone who wants to understand what’s going on when there’s no one talking on screen…

Final Verdict:

There might be a lot western friends and people from other parts of the world who might be curious enough to know what Indian movies and Bollywood are all about and how they fare up. If that’s the case, then make them watch Indian movies starting with Vishwaroopam/Vishwaroop. It’s by a decade the most complete Indian action thriller movie made on Hollywood scale with power packed action sequences and a great story that will please audiences of all ages. This is an out and out stylish action thriller to come out from an Indian ‘Clint Eastwood’ styled genius Kamal Hassan… The movie rocks! Just go for it!!!

My Rating: 4/5

Kadal

Kadal – Music Review


It’s been quite some time I had reviewed any soundtrack album or movie as I was busy writing stories. But there is no better way to start off with Mani Ratnam-ARR’s Kadal.

It’s been sometime since Mani Ratnam had made a movie after Raavanan / Raavan. Though the movie was amazing with brilliant cinematography and a screenplay which was a critic’s delight, the movie failed to set the box office cashing. The Tamil version fared much better than the Hindi version; partly because AB Jr. screwed it big time in Hindi… Alright now coming to the audio review of Kadal…There is just one question that I keep asking myself. Why AR Rahman always gives his best to his mentor Mani Ratnam?

I always thought that ARR had more creative independence in Mani’s films and Kadal just confirms that I wasn’t wrong with my conclusion! This album is completely refreshing and what you hear in them is completely new! New sounds, lyrics that are based on fishermen folk and Christian gospels and a gentle breeze of western music…In short this is the best synchronization of Western Music with gospel anthems and village/fisherman folk. Let’s review each and every song in the album…

Song: Chithirai Nela 

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Contributing Artists: Vijay Yesudas

This is probably a song describing the prologue to the movie. Vijay Yesudas lends the voice and the lyrics by Vairamuthu – alluring. The song has a very pleasant mood where lyrics super cedes music. Credit should go to Vairamuthu’s thumping lyrics which elevates the song from the second stanza!

Song: Adiye Adiye 

Lyrics: Madan Karky

Contributing Artists: Sid Sriram, Marie Roe Vincent, Chorus

Sid Sriram starts off on a pretty unusual tone. The songs picks up with a slow soul based blue music. Then there are some western guitar percussions…And then there is the final touch of gospel song…This song is pure magic. Sriram and the brilliant chorus led by Maria Roe Vincent give the song the feel that no one likes to forget! This song is for sure to stay here…

Song: Moongil Thottam 

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Contributing Artists: Abhay Jodhpurkar, Harini, Sekar

The very first word uttered made me feel that this is Karthik all over again to recreate the magic of ‘Usurey Pogudhu’ from Raavanan but I was proved wrong! The song sung by Abhay Jodhpurkar, Harini and Sekhar is soul stirring with beautiful lyrics. It just made me hit the repeat button again and again while writing this review! This song is sheer magic. It sets the feel how romantic the situation would be and how brilliant Mani Ratnam-ARR combo can be with romantic songs; this one is sure to watch out for…

I wish Moongil Thottam goes down in the history of ARR’s music career as one of the best romantic odes to the on screen pairs…

Song: Elay Keechan 

Lyrics: Madan Karky

Contributing Artists: A R Rahman

And the Mozart of Madras is back to singing this special piece. The song gives you a feeling that this might be the song that will set the ball rolling to the visuals. The lyrics written by Madan Karky is 100% folk based but the music integrated with it is so western that you keep wondering how it would have been shot. This is altogether a new feeling for me as a reviewer to listen to a song that has so much to offer. Again the chorus needs to be contributed which adds magic to the genius voice. Sometimes the chorus sounds like the one from ‘Kaadhal Desam’ – Musthafa Musthafa! An entirely different approach but worth the listen!

Song: Nenjukkule 

Lyrics: Vairamuthu

Contributing Artists: Shakthisree Gopalan, A R Rahman

By now people have said a lot about this song…It’s great…It’s ordinary…It’s wonderful…It’s usual…A fresh voice…Nah…She sounds much like Swarna Latha…Let the debate go on and on but Shakthisree Gopalan is sure of one thing…She has registered herself in the list of nominees for the best vocals – Female of 2012! She lends such an angelic charm to the song that you are sure to hit the repeat button again and again! The lyrics penned down by three times National Award winner Vairamuthu is fantastic. I am sure the song would have lent considerable emotions to the on screen character that it will certainly be one the best moments in the movie to watch out for!

Song: Anbin Vaasale 

Lyrics: Madan Karky

Contributing Artists: Haricharan

Pain…Church choir…Dramatic Music…Soulful lyrics by Madan Karky…And finally Haricharan! The song is fine mix of God, drama and the lead character’s emotional interlude. It’s a great song where the Chorus take us down the nostalgic lane of Anbendre Mazhaiyile from ‘Minsara Kanavu’ and some old choir songs that you might have heard in Ilayaraaja’s & Ray Charles compositions. Nevertheless, the song has its own highs and lows which would be captivating enough to feel the gravity of the situation.

Song: Magudi Magudi 

Lyrics: Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam, Mani Ratnam

Contributing Artists: Dinesh, Chinmayi, Tanvi Shah

The song that stands out of this album is Magudi Magudi. This song sounds more situational and will certainly elevate what would be on visuals. The song sounds more like a challenge to a particular situation rather than something connected to this rather ‘feel the romance’ album. Dinesh Kanagaratnam who has written the lyrics and sang along with Chinmayi and Tanvi provides a breath of fresh air, considering ARR often sticks to Blazee for rap… Also, if you can understand the first stanza in the lyrics, you can understand that there is an overwhelming revolutionary feel to the song. Also, to mention, the lines uttered by Chinmayi, have been penned down by Mani Ratnam himself. I am sure; people would love to have this song as their ringtone!

Final Verdict:

AR Rahman compositions are a lot different from the ones we listen to everyday. It would certainly take a couple of hearings to understand his genius. He uses a lot of new instruments, new sounds, integrates new genres and brings in new singers and gets the perfect emotions that works seamlessly. It’s well-known that A R Rahman always gives his best for his mentor, Mani Ratnam and this album is no different. Great songs, new genres, soul stirring music… The album that everyone had been looking forward is here. If western music lovers thought Slumdog Millionaire was his best… Then please go buy the album ‘Kadal’ to know that Slumdog M was just the tip of the iceberg.

I love this album and I strongly recommend it… Trust me… You will not be disappointed… :)

Links: Visit the Madras Talkies Channel on YouTube for the songs, lyrics, teasers and trailers for Kadal

Over All Rating: ♥

London Bridge

London Bridge


Monday mornings are always shit gloomy…Half asleep with project status calls and meetings planned right from 8 AM in the morning till you realize that its lunch time and you have already gulped down 3 coffees! Being an IT Consultant looks cool and awesome with those cool suits, ties, blackberry meetings, unending conference calls where no one has a clue of what the discussion is and yet the call goes on for hours, but the fact still remains that no one knows what lies beneath.

I was travelling by London Tube on a chilly Monday morning from London Bridge to Canary Wharf through the Jubilee Line. There was a long queue with people’s faces buried into the daily newspapers. And then there were few who were trying to get over the hangover of the weekend with the help of a Starbucks and Costa, and few more were busy replying to mails over their blackberry. I was moving closer to the underground station and I knew that I had very little time to reply back to the mails as I would be losing signal in few minutes.

As I was about to hit the send button, someone patted on my shoulder. I turned back and looked at a girl who stood there with a grin on her face. At first I didn’t recognize her but I rushed through my past memories and remembered her in an instant. She held her hand forward and with an agreeable nod and smile she said,

‘Will you give me the locket now?’

She was the same girl I had spent the night with few years ago…We bumped into each other at ALL BAR ONE in Canary Wharf. She was sitting alone with a Bacardi in her hand. Watching her sheer beauty, my mind and heart worked in perfect sync! Both said the same thing… ‘This is it… Hit on her!’ I eventually did.

So I offered her a drink and she said she was waiting for someone. I tried dropping in a couple of cheesy lines but nothing worked. I finally said, ‘Just one drink…You can always go back once when the person whom you are waiting for arrives.’ She agreed with a beam.

We had two rounds of beer and no one was still to be seen. I asked her, if she was really sure that someone was joining her. She smirked and said with a shy tone, ‘There was never anyone…’

For the next hour we shared funny instances and discussed a range of topics that were amusing and hilarious. We went around from one bar to another one around London. First we dropped by to watch the Chelsea vs. Liverpool game, and then we went around Oxford Circus & Regent Street high on tequila shots and did some crazy stuff in the name of shopping at John Lewis.

And the last stop was Leicester Square. The Odeon theater was screening the premiere of Inception and she literally went nuts when she saw Leonardo Di Caprio wave his right hand at his fans… Once done with another round of lighter drinks, we took a walk down to Trafalgar Square. The night was cold and I could feel the cool breeze pass upon us. She held me closely and I held her with my arm over her shoulder.

We were drunk and we didn’t realize how messed up we looked. We sat on the steps watching an open air art show, laughing at the different arts being projected on the LED. We made fun of every stroke of the art being projected. We didn’t know what we were discussing and why we’re chuckling but we were sure of one thing. We were really drunk and liquor was doing the rest!

As we sat closer and closer, there was this warmth that was running through our bodies and we wanted more of it. As she came closer, I could feel the warm air escaping from her nostrils onto my face. We eventually kissed. It was first a peck. Then it was a little more than a peck. As it got better and better, within few seconds, our tongues did the rest!

We got on the tube, occasionally smooching and caressing before we reached my flat. It was getting warm enough for us and we didn’t have to wait longer. It was a journey down the lane which I hadn’t taken in months. In short it was the night I had wanted to ease my office pressure of the last 4 months!

We had the night for us and we were at our best. The candle lit room, our warm naked bodies, her flawless skin, the gentle pushes and kisses made it all the more exciting and pulsating! In short, it was heaven on earth. That was the night; I slept in a long…long time.

We got up the next day at 8 AM in the morning with our heads heavy with the feeling of someone trying to hammer them. We thought it would be best if we could grab some coffee and breakfast. During breakfast, coffee served as the major reliever for the moment. I walked her to London Bridge station and before crossing the lane; she turned around kissed me on my lips and said,

‘I had a great time with you. Hope we meet sooner than later…’

I beamed with a nod and said, ‘We will…’

While she crossed the lane, she waved her hand to bid good-bye to me and I waved back.

She smiled, turned back and started to walk. I slipped my hands into my jacket and felt a tingling sensation. I pulled it out to see what it was and it was her locket which she accidentally dropped the previous night while shopping at John Lewis. While she crossed the lane, I called her out to hand over the locket to her. Just as she turned, a high-speed bus hit her and threw her in front of the tube station entrance.

She dropped dead and I stood in shock with my eyes wide open!

Music Is Life

Music is Life


Music is always, will and must be part of everyone’s life. Everyone’s life revolves in those numerous sounds that we come across. Sounds and tone overlay our entire approach, look and feel of everything we see in our life. In short, music is everywhere and in everything. It’s there in every child’s cry to the slightest of sound escaping through your nostrils… Music makes everything. Music underlay the very tone of a person’s identity…

It’s sometimes not easy to express what we want. Not all of us are great poets or writers who could pepper us and our loved ones with the sheer joy of exotic descriptions but the music that we listen takes us to places where we would have never gone. There is too much of hatred in this world for supremacy in race, religion, language and cultures. But in all this nonsense and abhorrence, there is one thing that binds all of us without even a second thought… Love!

But how would you understand the concept of love for people whom you have never met or whom we have met and still unable to express ourselves? That’s where the byproduct of Love takes over… MUSIC

To shows us new doors to excitement and cultures, we don’t need to be a critic or someone who plays every instrument on this planet nor be a jack of all trades. All we need is to open ourselves to those small strings that make us nostalgic and take us down the memorable paths! Love shows us that life is not a monotonous journey but music with overlays and unending strings.

I am a music lover and a great fan of varied genres but you ask me to play an instrument, I just can’t. I don’t know what the keys are… I don’t know which instrument defines melody and which defines pathos but that never stopped me enjoying the nuances and clichés that music brings to me… If I am sad, I listen to The Beatles, Adele, Linkin Park and Eminem… If I am happy, I listen to MJ, Madonna, Rihanna, LMFAO, but then there is something more to the way you look at life…

My western sensibilities can be attributed to the way I was bought up in my youth or for the matter for my entire generation. Life is not about the choices we take; but it’s about how we make those choices work for us after we work for it seamlessly…

I was no different. I was bad in Hindi during my school days, my Telugu was bad during my college days and whenever I visited Chennai, my Tamil was just junk in the eyes of so many I know in Chennai… But did it stop my sensibilities or my love for the music across barriers? It actually never did…

There were great music directors from the North who gave some unforgettable and amazing numbers… Then I started to hear to the maestro – Illayaraaja who made sure that people still love South Indian Music… Music seemed to take a gentle approach and those 80’s and early 90’s were adorned with spells of music that was in general the feel of every Indian. Back then, my country was not open to the world. We were still struck in the socialist ideas of the erstwhile USSR. In general, we were happy with what we had…

Whenever my family, friends or cousins travelled to new worlds and were exposed to some amazing cultures, they would bring back those wonderful collections – songs and music which we hardly knew. We didn’t understand the lyrics, we didn’t know what was being conveyed in those songs, nor did we understand the music… Though the brilliant part was this… We still fell in love with it.

But then there were the traditional narcissists who hated the western flavor. And so began the generation cracks… Within few years, it turned into a generation gap.  In India, the educated rich, upper middle class masses were immersed in music of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Madonna, Queen, Pandit Ravi Shankar and so on… Then there was this middle and lower middle class people of my country who knew just MJ, Boney M and ABBA from the west, RD Burman, SD Burman, Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy, Laxmikanth Pyarelal, Jagjit Singh, Ghantashala, MS Subbalakshmi and many more… (There are many more legends but I just recognize this at the time of writing this article… Hence No Offence Meant (NOM))

India is a huge country with diverse religions, landscapes, numerous languages, cultures, races, festivals, states, districts and many more which are so different from one another that you just can’t connect everyone at one go… I guess the only exceptions were Mahatma Gandhi and Sachin Tendulkar! So when it comes to music, still there was this void in us…

We wanted someone who could appeal across all sections of the society…Someone who could penetrate into our living rooms, leave out our inhibitions, look straight to our friends and cousins settled in the west and around the world that we too have a guy who will not leave you for wanting more but will also make you think that here is a guy who could combine world music and create new genres that appeal not just the people who had tremendous musical sensibilities but also to the masses…The myth was finally shattered by a genius…

I was no more stuck to the usual songs of just Tamil in Tamil Nadu (South Indian state), Hindi (As it’s the national language and most in South India don’t accept it… Politics! You see…) with my friends, Telugu when in Hyderabad (Capital of the state Andhra Pradesh part of South-Central India).

I was listening to new sounds, new acoustics, new variations, theatrical grandeurs, new graphical representations, new horizons, new instruments, new sensibilities… In few years, the landscape of Indian music was changed…From movies that had led actors running around the trees making romance to revolution tones. Music was changing… It was moving in the right direction… We finally had a hero for us to stand up and understand our emotions and our need to be cool but at the same time Desi… We finally had a composer who would give you music that ranges from overlays of sad tones to dramatic emotions… I came to know what music can do to us. He made us cry…He made us dance…He created a veil of satisfaction…He showed us how even unconventional music can be butter to our breads…We finally had our musical storm…We finally had our Mozart of Madras…We had A R Rahman!

Here is what Wikipedia says about him… Some excerpts…

Allahrakka Rahman (born A. S. Dileep Kumar, 6 January 1967) is an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, musician, multi-instrumentalist and philanthropist. Described as the world’s most prominent and prolific film composer by Time, his works are notable for integrating Eastern classical music with electronic music sounds, world music genres and traditional orchestral arrangements.

He has won two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, four National Film Awards, fifteen Filmfare Awards and thirteen Filmfare Awards – South in addition to numerous other awards and nominations. His extensive body of work for film and the stage earned him the nickname “the Mozart of Madras” and several Tamil commentators and fans have coined him the nickname Isai Puyal (English: Musical Storm).

In 2009, Time placed Rahman in its list of World’s Most Influential People. The UK-based World Music magazine ‘Song lines’ named him one of ‘Tomorrow’s World Music Icons’ in August 2011.

More on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_R_Rahman

So in a way, Music is a journey and it chooses different people to elevate it to the next level which A R Rahman did it with sheer brilliance :)

Credits:

Featured Image – Naresh Ramadurai (http://dreamlenz.com/) ; Photo Subject: Kishore

My Noiseless Memories - Chapter 25

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 25


Present Day

I entered the hospital. Life was normal around, but to me everything seemed to be in complete silence. There was sense of shock. I approached the hospital emergency desk, told them that I was looking for my wife and her name is Zoya.

She checked her register and expressed her condolences. They pointed me to the room where she lay. I broke down at least 3 times before reaching the door handle. I opened the door, walked a couple of steps and with my trembling hands, I slowly moved the curtain… My mouth went dry in shock as I moved closer. The body was completely covered. I couldn’t find the courage to move the cloth. I trembled, cried, and punched the wall in complete resentment until my knuckles bled.

Rajesh calmed me down, made me sit on the chair. I told him I can’t do this. He took courage and said to hold onto myself. He slowly moved the cloth and revealed the face…

Their lied a body, so badly hurt and completely dressed in bandages. I couldn’t understand what was going on. She had a small mole on her left side of her collar bone but here it wasn’t there… I wiped my tears to have a clear look at the body. It was not Zoya… It was her friend, Sheetal… I was shell shocked. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Rajesh stood there confused without an answer. He went running to the doctor and said that it was not Zoya but her friend Sheetal.

‘I suppose somewhere the identities have been confused…’

The doctor took to us to the other patient in the intensive ward. She said, ‘…That poor girl suffered a fracture on her ribs and shoulder. Her vocal cord was hurt but was lucky to survive the horror. My chief has fixed her and he says that she would be fine in the next couple of months…’

She checked for her name in the patient list…

‘Patient’s name is…’

‘Zoya…!’ I said

I walked backwards to the wall, tears rolled out from my eyes, there was aridness in my mouth, I stammered to speak the words but one word kept coming to me again and again… Zoya… Zoya…

I smiled, I prayed, I cried, I thanked, I was speechless, I finally got back my Zoya… That was the longest day of my life…

I understood the reason for the accident. Sheetal and Zoya were on their way to the local NHS registration. Zoya was in a hurry and didn’t carry her bag. She gave the NHS card and her mobile to Sheetal. She kept it along with hers in her bag.

Sheetal was driving at an average speed. She lost control of the car when a smuggled car and its driver drove too fast to end up in a head on collision with Sheetal’s car. Zoya survived because she was sitting in the back seat with belt on and Sheetal succumbed to her injuries. It was heartbreaking to hear the news. The worst was over…

I remembered the old Arabic verse… A man passes through 7 shades of love… Attraction, Infatuation, Love, Reverence, Worship, Obsession and Death… To us it was a rebirth of our relationship…

It took 36 hours for Zoya to get out of her sedatives. I sat there patiently waiting for her to get back to her senses. She opened her eyes with lots of difficulty. She couldn’t move her head freely but was fine. She saw me and was overcome with emotion. She couldn’t handle the pain of her body but she didn’t show any sign of discomfort. She raised her hand and I held it with subtle care.

After holding her hand for almost 20 minutes, she felt comfortable. She then tried to speak but couldn’t. She wanted to say something but I couldn’t understand. I asked her to take some rest and not to trouble herself but she didn’t. I called the doctor to understand what she was gesturing but even she couldn’t understand…After her repeated sign languages to explain, I finally faced the horror…

I fell on the chair looking at her who was still trying to talk to me in sign language…I couldn’t understand what she spoke but the plight of watching her explain in sign language shattered me. I never wanted a lot of things to happen in my life… But I never wanted this for Zoya…I cursed myself that why it wasn’t me in her place and why it had to be Zoya…

I watched her over and over again trying to explain that it wasn’t her mistake and she was sorry for what has happened… She kept mentioning if I still loved her… I was broken… I was in tears…I took her hand into mine, kissed on her forehead, hugged her and affirmed that I still love her the same way as I always did…

Our first meeting, our first fight, the first date, our trip to Tennessee, those wonderful college days, our unending chats, those exam sessions, our late night cooking escapades, those inexpressible feelings for each other, her childish mischief, proposing her in Chicago, those burning desires, our heartbreaks, graduation, work, marriage, daughter… I could sense those beautiful memories rushing before my eyes…But they were different.

I could see the images but I couldn’t recollect the different sounds in them…There was no music… There was no sound… There was no chatter… There was no cheerfulness… The creation around was at peace but the images were dull…The world was silent…There was no noise…

My memories were noiseless…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 24


Present Day…
 
En route to the airport, I wanted to pick up my daughter from the crèche… I was inconsolable. Rajesh did the bulk of talking and I stood their speechless. The school mistress promised me that she will keep my daughter safe until we were done with the formalities.
 
I saw my daughter come running to me, I held her in my hands…‘What happened papa…?’
 
What could I probably answer the poor little one? I hugged her, and kissed. She was all I had…
 
Not so long ago…
 
8 Months later…
It took 8 months for us to get married, from the day my dad called me to inform that he is ready to accept Zoya as his Daughter-in-law. To make sure, that everything was in tune with our parents sentiments, we arranged the wedding in both Hindu and Muslim traditions. Though Zoya’s dad didn’t make it to the wedding, he was happy that the marriage took place according to Islamic tradition (We didn’t share the Hindu styled marriage photos with him on the request of Zoya’s mother).
 
After 7 years since I first met her at the university apartment in Texas, we finally were man and wife. The journey was one hell of roller coaster ride with all the ingredients required for a love story!
 
6 Years later…
Any man can be a father but being a father to a girl is always a special feeling because ‘for a son is a son until he gets a wife; a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life.’ It was an amazing experience to have a daughter. I had one…
 
Our first few months as new parents were ridiculously tiresome. We spent sleepless nights, changing her nappies once in every four hours, drooping on the couch and kitchen tables, finding no time to eat together but feed her whenever needed to, no time for entertainment or recreation… We were on skates 24×7!
 
Zoya turned out to be a great mother but that never stopped her on picking up fights with me. She was tired to switch between the role of a mother and then back to a consultant working on her sabbatical! Nor there was a deficit of those noiseless days we spent on each other’s shoulder while our daughter slept.
 
With every passing year, my daughter started to grow faster, smarter and cuter. A daughter is the only person who loves her father blindly. When Zoya would ask me to spare an evening for shopping, my tiredness and laziness used to give in. I used to turn a deaf year to her disappointed chatter… Predominantly, her chatter used to be in Urdu… I suppose…
 
‘Mom…! Tell me a story…’
 
‘Go, ask your dad!’
 
‘Papa… Please tell me a story…‘ Whenever my daughter puts her arm over my shoulder and asks me anything, for some reason, I just turn into a pat of butter in a hot frying pan! I guess it’s the same with every dad in this world!
 
My life was great with Zoya around. As every marriage runs through its bumpy rides and rough weather, there was never a time, I hated her. Though I had my own share of quarrels and fights with Zoya, she was still my Zoya and I kept falling in love again and again with her. She was just the girl God meant for me…And my daughter in a sense completed us…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 23


Not long ago…

4 Years later…
Zoya was working in Orange County and I was shuttling between Boston, NJ and Connecticut as my work demanded travel. My weekdays were hectic and my weekends were busy with Zoya. During our college graduation day, everyone from our batch made a pact that no matter what happens to us and no matter where we are, every year we would follow the tradition of spending the July long weekend vacation with our friends and their families. It was amazing…

Our parents finally started to understand the gravity of our love as well as our dedication and respect to them. One day, my dad called me to check if I was fine and whether I was taking care of myself. To my surprise he asked me something else…

‘Arjun…’

‘Yes Dad…’

‘Do you really like Zoya?’

I was speechless for few moments. I had never expected him to ask him this…Never! But he did ask and I didn’t know what to say. I took time to sink the question in and then said,

‘Yes Dad…I love her the way I love you and mom…’

‘Do you want to get married to her?’

‘I will not get married to her without you or mom’s consent dad…’

‘Then son, go ahead and marry her. We will travel to America to see our son get married to the woman he loves… I don’t know how long we have left to stay in this world. By stopping you from getting married to a girl whom you love, we are denying our own love. My denial was not because I hated you or the girl. My denial was because of the fear that we went through of what would happen to you or Zoya. I don’t see that anymore. You and Zoya have stood behind each other when it mattered, the most and not for a split second, you disrespected us. I guess I acted pretty hard on you and Zoya. I am sorry…’

couldn’t believe if it was my dad or someone impersonating by dad! ‘Dad…! Is everything ok?’ I asked in surprise…
‘Of course everything is OK you idiot!’ he said and I could hear him laugh loud over phone!

It just took my dad five minutes to drive me down the madness lane.

‘But listen son; will Zoya be happy to see us? After all, we broke her heart when she so pleasingly and desperately begged us…’

‘Of course she would be fine with it dad! Let me get her connected so that you can talk.’

‘No… Wait! An occasion of this magnitude cannot just go unnoticed. Surprise her… Give her a gift and then break the news! Once when you have told her, you can call me. We will talk to her…’

That was incredible news. I surprised Zoya by flying the very afternoon to Orange and broke the news. She was in shock, awe and at the same time, felt a sense of completeness. My dad spoke to her, apologized for his behavior. In return she asked him not to apologize to someone who is younger than her. What impressed him was that, she called him papa right from the time she met them during our graduation day 4 years ago…
My mom, who was already fine with my choice after a couple of years, was really happy that Zoya had picked up some Tamil and Telugu words… But frankly speaking it sounded Chinese to me…  For now, Mission Impossible – Part 1 was over…

After a couple of weeks, I secretly called Zoya’s mom. First she wouldn’t talk to me, not out of hatred but out of fear for Zoya’s dad. I explained her how much it matters to take her daughter as my wife. I promised her that our love for each other was more than religion and national boundaries.

It took the next 3 months for me to first become friends with Zoya’s mother. Then another month went by to showcase my Urdu skills and my love for her daughter. I even spoke broken Urdu to keep her interested in my conversations. She was old; she could sense the desperation in my tone to please her in accepting me as her Son-in-law.

5 Months later…
On a pleasant Sunday evening, I was at Zoya’s apartment and we were having a good time watching the Spurs play. Her phone rang. She took the call. It was her mom… Zoya had not spoken to her mom nor did her mother tried calling her in all these years. They spoke in length for almost 90 minutes. In between the talks, there were usual pauses, inconsolable sobs, surprise chatter and heartfelt laughs. It was reunion after all…

Zoya’s dad didn’t want to talk to her. His ego was hurt but at the same time, he didn’t stop his wife from talking to Zoya or letting Zoya’s mother travel to America to attend our marriage. I tried talking to her dad but he never answered. In a way, Mission Impossible 2 was a partial success…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 22


Present Day…
The flight touched Ontario airport and I held Rajesh’s hands even tighter. I rushed through the gates. I was nervous. I couldn’t figure out how I could stand this tragedy…

Not so long ago…

My dad and mom arrived for the graduation day. I picked them from the airport, arranged a nice hotel room close by to my university. They were really happy that I was finally getting graduated and for the person that I had matured to become in the last few years… They were excited unknowing to the story I was about to reveal to them. It was like the US would call it – WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction).

But first I had to get this girl back. I went to her when she was in the library; she slapped me for my act at the birthday party! I knew I was wrong so had to take it. I convinced her for close to 4 hours. She kept pushing my hand every time I took it closer to console her. At some point, I couldn’t control my laugh. Even she couldn’t but kept pretending that she is pretty serious.

So I finally let her know that my parents have arrived and they would be revealed with the WMD called Zoya in the next few days. We knew it’s going to be a hell of a weekened ahead and started to prepare for it.

I took my parents to all the places of interest in and around Houston. Rajesh joined us the next day. Finally when the time came, I and Rajesh arranged for a small get together for my mom and dad. All my friends came over to the party and I introduced everyone to them… There was Zoya as well…

Rajesh was astonished, my friends stunned, I was speechless. Would you believe it…? Zoya wore a sari and it was dazzling… My mom was easily attracted to her. Even though I introduced everyone, I played the waiting game before introducing Zoya. And my mom, after waiting close to 45 minutes, finally let it out… ‘Who is that girl?’

Friends… What do you think I would have told her?

I gathered cold feet and said, ‘She is a friend of mine from the university…’

‘Oh! She looks beautiful. Is she from Punjab?’

‘Punjab…?! Phew… Mom! You have no idea…but tell me, if I bring a girl like her tomorrow to you and dad and say that I want to marry her, would you be okay with it?’

Avale madri yenna da, avaliya kootitu va! Naan rombo santhosha paduven! (Why someone like her, bring her as our daughter-in-law and I will be more than happy to accept her!)’

I guess, the time was right and without waiting a second, I took my mom aside. I waved and signaled Zoya to come over. She came, touched my mom’s feet and then I said,

‘Amma (Mom)… She’s the girl I love. I want to marry her. Will you accept her as your daughter-in-law?’

My mom first thought that it was a joke, and then she realized the seriousness in my tone…looked surprised for a moment but within few minutes, she was happy… ‘Your choice is ours…  Go ahead! I don’t know what your dad would say but, I like her… Only concern… Does she know only Hindi and English…? I can’t talk to her every day in Hindi or English…’

She placed her hand over Zoya lovingly and asked innocently, ‘Why don’t you learn Tamil or Telugu?’ She just put her head down and said,

‘I will learn to speak Ma…’

‘Mom… Just don’t freak out what I would be telling you now…’

‘You have already given me a pleasant surprise. What else is it going to be?’

‘This wouldn’t be any pleasant to you I suppose.’

‘Kill the suspense and tell me what it is!’

‘If I had to tell you that she is from Pakistan and her religion is Islam, would yoy feel different from what you felt a couple of minutes ago?’

As expected, she was in a state of shock. She couldn’t go easy on what I had told her. She sat confused. She called me closer, told me that she always wanted good for me but she isn’t sure of what this is. She didn’t like the way I cornered her… My dad came over to my mom watching her sit in disbelief. She explained him what I had said… My dad wasn’t convinced with my mom’s version of the story.

All our lives, me and Zoya have been selfish in looking after our own interests. We sensed that it was time we acted responsible and convinced our parents about our love and how deep our understanding was – Way above religion, caste, creed, country…

‘Papa… I am sorry to be introduced this way. I know what you feel deep down in your heart and I respect it with complete reverence. I know it’s really difficult for you to accept me as part of your family but I can assure you that I am very much the girl you would want Arjun to get married to at some point of time in his life. I am not asking for a chance here… I am asking you to give us hope. I am asking you to accept and love me the way you love your children. Please…’ she said…

My mom was overwhelmed with emotion. Her eyes filled with pity were fixed over Zoya. My dad didn’t look at her even once when she spoke. He silently stood, took my mom, called Rajesh to advance their tickets as they wanted to leave for India tomorrow. We knew that we have not only broken my parent’s hearts but Zoya’s as well! I tried convincing them further but nothing worked.

On the day my parents left, I told my parents,

‘Dad…I will not get married to anyone other than Zoya. Nor she would get married to anyone other than me… But we will marry, only when you, mom and her parents will accept us…And we will wait for that day!’

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 21


Not so long ago…

The story before the breakup… Continued

‘It sounds great and perfect… So where did it go wrong?’ asked Rajesh

‘It was all going great and there was no turning back. We had wonderful time together and those moments were simply amazing… And literally, we went crazy when we started as people in love in our apartment after the Chicago trip. There was no looking back until Tania and Zoya’s family happened.

First, Tania committed a mistake by posting Chicago trip pictures on Facebook. And to top that, she posted the photo in which I was on one knee proposing Zoya. And as you know, rumors take 10 seconds to reach and Facebook takes one tenth second to reach its destination…Her dad saw those pictures!
 
He went crazy…called her up, told her that everything between her and her family was over. She was a black mark in her family and things just went out of hand. She couldn’t convince them. I didn’t enter the video chats until she forced me to come over and convince them. The moment his dad saw an ‘Om’ locket around my neck, he went even madder!

It was mayhem and final exams were due in a couple of weeks. We didn’t want to take chances. I asked Zoya to promise them that she has broken up with me so that they are convinced and we can concentrate on our exams first.’

‘Ok! So did her dad believe that part?’

‘Naaa…He’s Zoya’s dad! His brain works sharper than Zoya’s… So he never believed us!

So as days passed by, we completed our exams. And thankfully everything went well. We got straight A’s in the final semester. She got placed in a business consulting firm in Orange County, LA and couple of weeks ago; I got placed in a design consulting firm which was based out of NJ. The design firm also had a branch in LA. And that’s when it went even crazier… She didn’t want me to take a job in NJ but stay with her and find another job in Orange.

Her inner fear superseded her practical thinking. I finally took courage and asked my dad and mom to visit me for the graduation ceremony so that I can lay my proposal in front of them once when I got graduated. She wanted to call her parents as well and invite them. But, they knew the story and didn’t want to even wish her.

I wanted to stand by her no matter what happens but as you know, she is always right when she is angry. So she started hurling and venting her anger on fate. That it is was my mistake to knock on her door that night and ask her for a coffee… Then the Tennessee trip and the allegations went on and on…

But I asked her to calm down and behave well before we went to Archana’s birthday party… We went, she couldn’t stand me, so we were in separate groups and the fight continued through stares at each other.’

‘So why did you suddenly go kiss her?’

‘Ah! That one… Ok! She hated liquor and I stopped taking it for almost 18 months. Now I had to annoy her. So I was bloody drunk after a long time and didn’t know what I was doing! I didn’t know what I was thinking but I just wanted to kiss her at that moment. So I kissed her… Completely my mistake but no reason why she should leave me…She even changed her status to single on Facebook!

Does it really make any sense? I mean, I do fight with my parents but you don’t see me change my status on Facebook to ‘Orphan’!’

Rajesh sat there in complete silence for some time…He just felt that there are still dumb people who could come to America, study, act liberal and yet never lose an inch of their senselessness. I placed my hand on his shoulders and asked him if he is ok with a smile…

 
He answered, ‘Do you guys ever realize what a nuisance you are to this world?’