Saturday, September 16, 2006

My new blog

So, I've been kind of away, but not from blogging really. I've started off a new blog, All Things Kamal. Check it out, especially if you're a Kamal fan like me. The idea is to get all things about Kamal Haasan in one place, starting with latest news and photos.

I'm hoping that it would grow to be a group-blogging site. If you're interested, drop in a line to the e-mail address on the left pane.

I've moved to WordPress mainly for the lack of categories. Yeah, I can see that Blogger is bringing it up in their new Beta; but I've heard of the problems too. I miss the JavaScript certainly, especially for AdSense. Who knows, I might bring that site to Blogger in the future!

Yeah, Blogger was cool for a beginner. I learnt the ropes here and I figured that people are going to read a blog for the content. I didn't want to write really personal stuff nor am I a gifted writer who can hold the audience spell-bound. So, the best thing was to identify a niche and blog on it. That's what I did. I enjoy keeping track of Kamal and hence hope that it will keep the blog going.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Save the Internet from evil corporations!

Save the Internet: Click hereTim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, is a new and infrequent blogger. Not surprisingly, he writes when he's really serious. So, I had to pay attention when he talked about Net Neutrality twice. I 'Googled' from there and found out what the fuss was about. puts it across in a simple way:
Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most.
Did I hear "Horrendous!"? If you want to understand fully how this affects users of the Net, see these examples.

There needs to be some discipline and ethics in social or business interactions, even on the Net. But business simply should not dictate law.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Handling Islamic terrorism

Apologies to anyone who has been wondering whether this blog has gone defunct. For anyone who doesn't care, skip to the next para and onto the actual post. The reason for inactivity is simple. I have moved from one place to another and it has taken a while to settle down. Nevertheless, this post has been long coming and it finally has.

"Islamic terrorism" is a buzzword around the world currently. Beyond the buzz, it is a worry for the future. To handle it, I felt we should first understand it rather than tackle it emotionally.

As I mentioned earlier, a prophet seeks to solve some problems and preaches what he thinks people should do. Sujai has a simplistic explanation, though I don't agree 100% with his assessment of Muhammad. But basically, Muhammad's task was to unite a set of war-mongering tribes and he did what he thought was necessary. He operated in the world he knew. Neither did USA exist nor was the world so small at that time.

Further, just as in Christianity or any other religion, the folks who take over after the prophet fight among each other, claiming their version is the correct one. This fighting continues over centuries and the original teachings get distorted. Tribal warfare was common in those parts of the world in the time of Muhammad and that was necessary for survival. If he asked people to fight, it was because that's what they thought was the best way out. Today, we are apparently more civilised and have other better ways of sorting out problems.

It's not as if only recently non-Muslims discovered that there are problems with the way Islam was being practised. Sufism is the example I know of. It was a kind of silent revolution and Sufi saints had to remain hiding fearing Islamic fundamentalists. A good sample of their thoughts is available through a recent pop hit by Rabbi. As I understand, God himself sings:
Nor am I the believer in mosque
Nor am I in the idol-worship
Nor am I in the pure or the impure...

Nor am I in the Vedas
Nor am I in intoxicants...

Nor am I Arabic nor from Lahore
Nor am I the Indian city of Nagaur
Nor a Hindu or a Peshawri Turk

Nor did I create the difference of faith
Nor did I create Adam-Eve
Nor did I name myself...
[Complete lyrics and translation]

Essentially, I see today's Islamic terrorism as based on natural behaviour of that region and as an extension of distorted teachings. Those who quote the Quran, swear by Allah and claim to be part of a jihad are just using their religion as a convenient tool to further their interests. Among the rest of the Muslims, possibly, there are many who understand what's going on and most who are ignorant or don't care.

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I don't have a silver bullet of a solution. I don't have an easy way out. Gandhi's ahimsa comes to my mind. Again I have to only repeat. Whether it is the terrorists or ordinary Muslims, all of them have to be embraced as fellow humans. We need to have a conversation of words, not a trading of bullets and missiles.

There is no painless way to peace. But let us not engage in war and destroy any chance of an everlasting solution.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

IT companies weren't targetted in Bangalore riots?

'Annavru' (respected elder brother) Dr. Rajkumar, the Kannada movie superstar, passed away on April 12 in Bangalore. The city is known worldwide more as India's IT capital. You might expect an entire state (Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital) to mourn, but not exactly what you see in the pictures here. Riots sparked 0ff and went on until the next day.

Rajkumar was seen as a Kannadiga icon. A article descibes how he grew beyond movies, someone with whom the rioters possibly identified with:

Just who are all these young men? They are mostly young fellows who are members of his fan clubs, that have fanned out all over the State.

Interestingly, most of them were probably still children when his last couple of movies were released. So it is really Rajkumar, the icon of Kannada pride, that they revere, not Rajkumar the movie star. The fan clubs grew, long ago, from being typical film fan clubs to an obsessive, cult movement.

There were many arguments that there was no anger vented on IT companies, which have attracted people from all over the country and made Bangalore cosmopolitan. The photographs here (obtained thro' e-mail forwarding) show what happened to one such company, Talisma. This office also happens to be in the same locality as Rajkumar's house.

The pictures speak for themselves and leave my words redundant.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Firefox video promotion

Firefox has been trying various methods of promotion. The latest is a video contest. The contest is not yet over, but some of the entries are already out.

Check them out on the official site or watch a quick digest on CNet (starting with an ad). One set of submissions has become so popular that it has a site, to itself.

I found some on YouTube too. Those are possibly other entries. View one of them right here...

PS: The Firefox button is featured on this blog for free; it doesn't generate any money.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Matrubhoomi: a movie that ought to be made and watched

Let's cut to the bottom-line straight. I don't agree with people who say that Matrubhoomi portrays extremes to garner attention and shows India in a bad light. The writer is entitled to his imagination and in this case, he has visualised a future where there is a dearth of women. Similarly, in this Internet age, we don't need movies to know the good or bad of a country. Rather, as Indians, I feel we take comfort in covering up our misdeeds.

The movie runs for about 90 minutes and is hardly boring. With the focus staying on the search for a bride and the dramatic results of success, it touches upon other aspects too. If anyone of us sits and thinks what would happen if female infanticide drove our society to a state where women become rare, we might possibly come up with most of the situations seen in the movie. Nevertheless, there are surprises -- actually more of shocks. Some scenes are certainly crude. Needless to say, this movie is a 'no-no' for children.

The title (meaning 'motherland') itself is a good piece of paradox to start with. There are quite a few metaphors, but certain (brief) digressions don't make sense. The camera is used intelligently, minimising the use of dialogues and scenes. I am not sure if the end had any significance.

The actors have done well. Sushant Singh, Piyush Jha and Sudhir Pandey stand out. Tulip Joshi impresses in her debut. She portrays the helpless small-town girl very well. Aditya Shrivastava is good, but seems a bit wasted. The background score by Salim-Sulaiman (who made a mark with Bhoot) is superb.

As a creative medium, movies shine best when such powerful message-oriented ones are made. Unfortunately, despite good backing and a widespread multi-lingual release, I wonder whether this movie reached those people who ought to be watching it.

Check out some thoughts of the maker, Manish Jha. If you don't want to know the entire story, skip the synopsis (marked in bold).

Picture courtesy:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What should Kamal do?

Kamal is Kamal Haasan, sometimes wrongly spelt as 'Kamal Hassan'. For those of you who don't know, he is a highly rated actor from India. Besides producing, writing and directing many movies, he also dabbles in singing, choreography and lyrics among other things. For more details, check out details on Wikipedia and IMDb.

I'm an ardent fan and have been following him for the most part of my life. This article might reflect that bias, but also attempts to provide some genuine suggestions to a beloved star. The only additional qualification I have is that I'm a movie-buff, but surely not a bigger one than Kamal himself.

For the past few years, frankly, Kamal has been struggling. Towards the end of the previous millenium, he launched his dream project, Marudhanayagam with much fanfare. After canning thirty minutes of the final product, he was stuck for finances and the movie was shelved. After years of proxy direction, he finally came out with Hey Ram. Save for a bit of indulgence, it was a perfect movie with a superb message. Alas, it went above the heads of most and flopped miserably. Faced with heavy financial losses, it was time to go back to the world of commercial movies. He has had moderate success from then on, except for the debacle of Aalavandhaan / Abhay.

But "running around trees" even at the age of 51 is both funny and sad. He seems to be in a constant state of 'Catch-22' between the movies he wants to make and the movies he's having to be in.

In my opinion, Kamal's days as a leading man are pretty much over. As merciless as Indian movies might be towards old actors, it is time to break the shackles once more and act only in roles that suit his age. Kamal has a recent example in Amitaabh Bachchan, the biggest star of them all, who learnt it the hard way. Supporting roles aren't bad at all, if they're going to stay in public memory forever.

Acting was, after all, something he got into by accident, as he himself has said many times. He can remain with his first love of making movies till the end of his life. His ever-increasing knowledge of movies is matched by very few and that's something that can be put to use always. Yes, if you want to make movies your own way, you need to produce it too most of the time and that requires loads of money. The "Amitaabh way" might be more than enough though. Also, movies with relatively low budget (few crores of rupees) aren't a bad option, maybe once in a while.

Kamal tasted success as a child star, struggled as a teenager doing choreography, got picked up by Balachander and rose to superstar status, moved onto meaningful movies starting with Nayagan and then hit the not-so-good times starting with Marudhanayagam. To use cricket terminology, it's time for Kamal to begin his sixth innings. (Or is it the seventh or the eighth?)

Picture courtesy: The Telegraph