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Sunday, December 28, 2008

20/20 and Ghajini : review

Malayalam movies post Prem nazir and Madhu era were of two types ,the arty ones which picked up awards in film festivals

(Adoor Gopalakrishnan type )but poor returns in theatres ,there were certain exeptional movies made in this genre but some were pains in the P ,

the other type were commercial hits with popular stories made very well with good actors and great directors like Padmarajan ,Siby malayil ,Lohitadas and Bharatan ,
This period also produced soft porn flicks of Shakeela and Reshma fame ,all this ended with the sex flicks dying a natural death ,but the good movies also ended .
The present creations are poor imitations of tamil and hindi masala ,the ageing superstars resuscitated in thier familiar roles filled with item dances anathema to malayalam film grammar .

AMMA the movie artistes forum created a multistarrer recently called Twenty Twenty which had almost everyone known in the industry ,
Although Mohanlal ,Mamooty ,Dileep and Suresh Gopi did thier roles responsibly it the poor story line and pitiful direction by Joshi made it a mess .

Benny ignatius lacklustre music contributed to its failure to a large extent .
Though the intial half was a bit intresting the movie literally died after that ,meandering into confusion and chaos breathing its last in the cimax ,
I for one sighed with relief when it did .

what a great oppurtunity AMMA lost with such talented stars and artistes in its fold ?
it should have made a film true to its roots instead of this facade ,

( it might have made its millions of course )

Hindi movies strangely have got out of the strightjacket of commercialism to a certain extent with the advent of multiplexes and consequent increase in a refined audience .

Ghajini the recent Aamir remake of a tamil film of same name is a fine example of this .
Directed by the director of the original ,A.R Murugadoss ,with music by the incomparable genius A.R.Rahman ( my favourite )..listen .

The movie has Asin as heroine who has shown that south actresses will continue to excel in the norht by her intelligent acting ,she was a delight to watch though seen only in half the movie .

Aamir as Sanjay Singhania the tycoon who turns into a closely shaven one man revenge machine burdened by a fifteen minute memory ,his eight pack body and superb acting skills make the film ,the stunts and choreography are made with professionalism and is a delight to watch .

Though many who have seen the tamil original with Surya feel it was better originals are always a class apart but among remakes Ghajini is a well made one .

So Please dont miss ghajini and please do miss Twenty Twenty !

Friday, November 14, 2008


Thursday evening Emirates road in Dubai was like a python gone to sleep .vehicles were barely moving in the eight track huge road ,

there should have been an accident somewhere for this to happen thought Muneer ,he was fidgety and in edge ,it was imperative he be in Sharjah by 7pm or else he would miss his flight he looked at Altaf

Altaf whats happening ? think we are stuck is any exit possible from here ?

This is the best bet ,going into the city would be worser .it will clear some accident mebbe

ah there it is he said as the cars ahead were diverting a big crash and a huge crane was trying to lift an upturned van ,the police were efficient and traffic moved sluggishly .

Muneer heaved a sigh of relief ,so it was possible he would get into his flight and at dawn he would be speeding to Patttambi from the airport .

two years and he hadnt even seen his little one Aysha poor Fatima she was bearing all the seperation it was just another gulf malayalees life

hard work and homesickness and the looking forwards to that day of homecoming

Altaf janta hun it is yrs since we came here, how time flies

Altaf nodded ,they both worked in the same company and Altaf moonlighted trips to the airport with his second hand Nissan

hailing from Pakistans multan Altaf was Muneers best friend and roomate along with Jinan

the car speeded up as the road cleared ,both friends were happy and rhymed along with the gazal belted out from FM Dubai and then it happened with just a deafening sound and flash

the car rolled and turned over itself bursting into flames as the big truck hit it with incredible force

Muneer felt a searing pain scalding his face ,he saw his child so closely .

Fatima was beckoning to him and he floated into her arms and then into blessed oblivion

Altaf died on the spot

the truck too lost balance and toppled on to a van totally .

It was a big mess with many injured and a score dead

the mayhem was like a battle scene

police arrived with effort finding way to reach the place ,helicopters hovered above pulling the injured up into thier safety and to the nearby Dubai hospital

it was confusion all over

" Eda Nasser and Altaf accident ,eda vem vaa "the mobile woke up Ashraf and Jinan after midnight ,it was hours before somebody could trace thier numbers and the police called thier friend chako from the number in muneers shatered mobile

oh no Jinan sobbed in the motuary poor Muneer oh lord look at Altaf I cant see him ,both were beyond recognition and scarred , smell of burnt flesh brought revulsion to him and he rushed out

what can Ido oh my God how can I call them in Pattambi ? They will be waiting for his arrival

Abdul Azeez was doing that for 2 years

His son was getting back

His mind raced into the past as the car drove swiftly in the darkness of dawn to the airport

Muneer was always his favourite ,he took special care of his bappa he had always been like that concerned and loving and Fatima was such a good wife for him poor thing he could feel her pain when she read his letters or called her .

Today she was awake when Azeez left

" molle go to sleep it is midninght I will be back with him in the morning ."

"illa bappa urakkamvarunilla ."

he just laughed

after Muneers mother died last year it was Fatima who looked after the big house and its affairs leaving nothing undone it was a blessing to have her as a daughter in law thought Abdul azeez

Allah karim ........

And then the moblie rung incessantly Azeez had some intution when he answered it ,It was unexplainable and uncomfortable feel of something gone wrong

" baapa Jinanannu Altafinde friendu jinan "

"Aa jina flight vitto ? "

"Ayyo Baapa chadichu avan namalevittu poyi "Jinan sobbed

"Entha entha nee parayinadhu ? "

Azeez gripped the mobile his kncukles turing white

"monne jinna enthadanee paruyunnu "

Ellam poi accidentanu both of them Muneer and Altaf gone , on way to airport

Azeez was sweating and had a searing pain in his head

it cant be true Iam dreaming

the taxi driver looked at his ashen face "saare enthupatti ?"

"ayyo ayyo nirthu nirthu enthina ponnu avan varulla !! "

Muneers brother sitting behind woke up hearing this

"bappa bappa what are you saying ?"

"poyada ellam poyi avan poyada ente mon poyi kondupoyi avanne ayyo njaan enthu cheyum

entha paraya avente penninodu ? "

Salam grabbed the phone and dialled jinans number

"jina entha entha ?"

" Salamme seriya bappaa paranjadhu serriya big accident thier car got burnt I saw the body could not recognise even the face I mean "

"vandi thrikku shanmugna chetta veetilekku vekkam "

Events moved like slow motion after that

the taxi entering the house and an eager Fatima rushing with her child

she was surprised at their retun so fast

but what happened ?

is bappa not well ?

why is he leaning on Salam ?

Salam entha ?

parayam parayam

The news landed on her like thunder she was shellshocked not a tear no crying just silence as she clutched her baby to her chest she would not give the baby to anyone however much they asked she just sat with the baby motionless .

the house was full of poeple

silent sobs reverberated from its wall mingling with verses of koran being chanted

Sulaiman MLA was there

"Azeez ikka karyangaloke nengalu nokkikola bejaravenda ,ministerku vilichitindu ,avaruayakkum thamasikade

ividithe orukam athraye illu

"ente ponnune enthinanu konduvarunathu ? "sobbed Azeez

"Hai ingalanda parayunnu karyangolake nadakente ? " musaliyar boomed

the house was full of doers

the green coffin was ready too

evening fell as mobiles rung on and off to give the latest on the body and then jinaan called

someone thrust the mobile to Azeez

"bappa njananu Muneer ,onumpatilla baapa enikku onnum patitilla "

Muneer talked wheezingly

"Azeeez saare azeez saare avan undu .undu

thetiyadha he is alive alle thetiyadha " from jinan

what had happened was that the police had taken many to a nearby hospital and some to the mortuary

identification wad difficult and when jinnan was taken by police to see the body with Altaf he was sure it was Muneer .

Muneer later called from the hospital as soon as he regained consciousness asking for Altaf

he still didnt know

the house shook away its gloom as people talked of this miracle

Fatima broke into hysterical laughter

but somwhere in another house in distant Multan someone cried ...........

( I got this story outline from a true incident which I heard in the hospital today the injured malayalee is in the hospital even now ,

characters and events are my imagination of course )

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Dubai,s high rises below slowly faded and with the sun still in its morning mellow the searing summer heat was a few hours away.

Though the Luftansa business class seat was quite comfortable an ill placed wing hid the high rise landscape as we climbed up through the fluffy clouds .

I lost myself to fine champagne, discovery Earth and a relaxing nap . The stewardess was disappointed with what she thought was a probable wine connoiuseur what with my swishing the sparkle in the wine glass and smelling the bouqet ( I read this in a magazine and I wanted to show off ) ,but turning down her next vintage choice for a poorly sprite in a green can

( alcohols are just not my thing,don't know if one can demean wine with that label ! )

We glided into Munich Airport and its Teutonic efficiency in six hours .

I could make to the distant transit gate just in time for my connecting SAS flight to Stockholm

A quick hop and I was in Sweden chauffeured into a waiting car and driven through the neat and pristine roads to the Radisson SAS royal Viking in central Stockholm.

The Arlanda airport was just forty kilometers away from the heart of the city and well connected by the Arlanda Express a sleek fast train owned by a private company which offered non stop shuttle services for a fee of 220 Swedish Kroners ( roughly 1200 INR ) ,one could also go by the famed Stockholm taxis paying around 440 Kroners or hop into a leisurely red city bus to nearby Marsta station and get into the metro at quarter this cost .

I did think of Mr Kurien the IAS officer behind Nedumbassery airport in Kochi who achieved the unbelievable feat of creating an ethnically designed airport of international standards in the midst of cynicism, he wanted an efficient customer friendly shuttle boat, and train service to the city ,but sadly he was transferred before achieving that .

Maybe our taxi unions would have effectively blocked any such grandiose ideas ,hurrah to socialism

My Estonian driver was as all taxi drivers are meant to be quite talkative and in the span of my reaching the hotel he filled me with the whole politicoeconomicalreligous state of the country .

He reaffirmed that Sweden was a country with a very high cost of living but that the state also took care of its citizens in their old age and education and health was free.

Having deposited the baggage in the room I marveled at the scene through my window and rushed down for a walk into the neighboring cavernous central station ,the hub of Stockholm's transportation with metro lines crisscrossing ,the Arlanda express steaming in and the central bus station with trillions of fast food joints and shopping malls thrown in for the pleasure of the gaping tourist

Prosperity was abound everywhere and people were smartly dressed in the latest designer wear leather and long limbed Nordic beauties sprained my neck and filled my exopthalmic eyes with delight .

Strangely amidst all this glitter and glamour I did manage to find a beggar sitting with a sign proclaiming

"IAM HUNGRY "but his Santa Claus like rotund shape drew no sympathiesfrom the busy passerbys .

I walked gazing at the windows stocked with some of the finest ware in the world, high heeled boots, sleek skating rinks, wooden rifles, fishing gear, elegant furniture ,and so on .

It was cold and I buried my neck into the hood of my woolens as an icy wind blew, a line of makeshift shops festooned by colorful lights beckoned me into digging into a not so bad Spanish pasta which I washed down with a freezing ice cream .

Straight ahead was the waterfront reflecting the gleaming lights of neighboring buildings ,the city itself is made of fourteen islands connected by bridges with plenty of parks and sit outs facing the water ,the metro roared above while the orderly road traffic glided around ,I sat on a seat in the now empty riverside watching the old city or Gamla Stan across .

This heritage part of the city has been well maintained with their old frescoes intact neatly painted, most of the elegant buildings like the royal palace the parliament, the city hall and the famed Nobel hall where the Nobel prizes are given were in Gamla Stan .

Morning saw me streaming into the central station to board the metro to the Alvsjo station beyond Gamla Stan where the conference I came to attend was to be held .

Thoughtfully all nine thousand delegates of the European society of medical oncology from all corners of the globe were provided with free unlimited transport passes and Stockholm was infested with ESMO delegates for the week .

The International fairs was a permanent convention venue, it was designed expertly with many auditoriums and halls and a fitting pop gun fountain.

The weather was cool and pleasant and everyone was in their holiday mood.

Evening heralded the opening ceremony with the queen of Sweden doing the honors with typical blue blooded charm and elegance .

The formal ceremony metamorphosed into a rocking ABBA show by an imitation group of the legendary singers and the crowd toasted the queen clinking their glasses to the rhythm of ABBA .

There are many ways one could see the city and its nearby tourist spots ,all one has to do is to spell Stockholm in Google and you get the umpteen boat tours ,walk tours ,island and forest tours ,with the conference taking most of the time all I could manage was dumb window shopping and walking for miles in the evenings .

A sense of orderliness prevails in the country as all Scandinavian countries are sparsely populated the distribution of resources to the people is abundant and people are prosperous and happy but costs are prohibitively high .

The demographics ,politics and social values are relaxed and rules are lighter and less taxing ,of late this is slowly changing with erotic night spots closing down under pressure from womnes groups but one could still find a lot of hugging and kissing in the open .

Sweden has a history of neutrality ,though in the early seventeenth centuries it was a great power and had most of the present Scandinavian countries under it suzerainty it slowly lost the other nations and during world war II it remained neutral and benifitted by the post war global need for industrial products which it could supply and flourish .

One remembers Olaf Palme the charismatic Swedish prime minister who was shot dead as he walked back home from a movie with his wife ,with that Sweden lost its innocence.

One also thinks of the famed Nobel prize and many Indians think of Bofors guns when we remember Sweden .

These booming guns blast their shells into distant Kargil slopes and also into the Indian political battlefields .

The country side as one traveled in the local train to the airport was dreamy and picture postcard like with huge industrial warehouses flitting past as one sped from the city .

The stations were quaint and well kept with small cottages bright with flowerpots lining the way out .the buses were red and bright and drivers friendly .I asked mine at amrsta to tell me when we reach termina two of Arlanda and he nodded ,he got down in the next stop to give his baton to the next on duty and handed over the responsibilty of making me alight in the roght spot dutifully to him ,the bus dropped me a step ahead of the entrance door !

And I stepped into Arlanda to fly to Norway and that is for another day .

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya

We Indians celebrate all festivals with vigour
over the years Ramadhan has been an occasion of happiness and joy for all
Living in the  UAE last 6 years I had  always enjoyed Id
now in Brunei its no different though the celebrations have small differences

One of the most important functions to Muslims all over the world it falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar ,when it is believed that the holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
This is the month of SAWM or fasting .
Every muslim is expected to fast from dawn to sunset ,they have predawn food before Fajr ( prayers ) called suhoor and after prayer call at sunset ( Maghrib ) .During fasting they are to avoid any eating or drinking or even swallowing saliva and avoiding worldly activities concentrating on religious activites and on charity .
A month of austerity and spirituality with purity in thought and action .
A month of serving the needy and hungry ,a time of piety and goodness ,a time when man realises what hunger is and feels for his compatriot ,a time whne he thanks God for all he has got .
Breaking the fast  gatherings  are the Iftar parties .

In many countries specially in India these occasions have become an exercise in diplomacy and powerplay where prominent political parties and honchos and business people hold elegant Iftar parties ,but many of them are also abound with genuine feeling of brotherhood and friendliness and also as family gatherings .
I was fortunate enough to have attended a few over the years .
the first bite of a ripe date and the cooling of parched throats by a sweet juice was bliss to those who fasted the whole day ,it gave them also a spiritual satisfaction .
.There was gladness and cheer in every conversation

In Al ain in the  neighbourhood mosques   huge trucks rolled in with mounds of Biriyani for the needy served  in airconditioned tents .

In Brunei its called Hari Raya Puasa which literally means “Celebrate the fast” or “Feast of Breaking the Fast” and Aidilfitri also has a similar meaning in Arabic.
they also say that Puasa derives from Sanskrit meaning ‘fasting or abstention’. and Hari Raya Puasa means‘great day of fasting’
 As the celebration marks an end to the Ramadan month, the first day of the celebration would fall on the first day of the Sawal month.

during the whole month of fasting restaurants in Brunei compete with each other to provide buffet fast breaking dinners ,catering to different budgets and this is a delight to food explorers
Thai ,Malayan ,Indian ,Bruniean ,Indonesia ,Chinese philipino not to mentions Japanese continental are all there for the asking
to our dismay we found out that going a bit late one could find no seat and less food too !
another unique Bruneian custom is to gift hampers for Muslim friends .
there are also cute decorations on doors
there is also discount sales at all malls during the Hari raya month

Istana Nurul Iman is the residential palace of the Sultan. The palace is only open to public on the first 3 days of Hari Raya, immediately after Ramadan,

the best part of course is that his royal highness the Sultan of Brunei gives audience to every single person who visits the Royal palace during these days which is a great privelge and honour .
Every visitor can partake in buffet and part with a token gift .

so here is wishing you all

ID Mubarak and Selamat Hari Raya

Thursday, August 14, 2008


In time for the 61st Independence day of our beloved country Abinav bindra got us a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics effectively breaking the jinx of a country a with a billion people going with no gold for years .
For the twenty ninth Olympics our hockey team the eternal medal grabber of yesteryears couldn’t even get into the to the olympics as they failed to qualify with their dismal performance !
The last gold we got was in Moscow in 1980 which had depleted participation due to US led boycott
After that one bronze each came courtesy Leander Peas and weight lifter Karnam Malleswari and one silver in Athens in 2004 from shooter Rathore who incidentally led our team consisting of 57 atheletes and 47 officials in the opening ceremony in Beijing now .
Of course hope stills runs eternal to our other team members like Peas ,Mahesh Bhupathi ,Sania Mirza ,our other shooters like Rathore ,wretlers ,boxers ,judokas atheletes like Anju george .
These are early days and it is a warm feel to know that one coveted gold is already in the kitty and more could come be it bronze or silver .
Like the IT scene and our enterprising industrialists India seems to be on the rise .the elephant is on the move and there is no more stopping it .
It was Sri Dorabji Tata who financed three runners to Antwerp Olympics from Pune for he felt they were as good as any .A year after 1929 when India got its first olympic gold for hockey Dorabjee had foreseen Indias decline in sports ,

he wrote “India is not yet ripe for the International Olympic Games. The love of such things is not ingrained here. There are so many communities, so many different religions, so many languages and dialects, so many different customs and ideals, that it is almost impossible to select a national team.” Political intrigues still plague Indian sport and the future is still uncertain but for now at least, somewhere, Sir Dorabji must be smiling.
With Independence there has been more politics in sport than sport itself ,selecting teams and training them were decided by burecrats and politicians who vied for a place in such bodies and successfully demolished our success in sports .

A study conducted for the dismal performance of India in Olympics declared lack of infrastructure and social mobility for not reaching out to talents in rural pockets as a cause for it .
With sponsorships and money flowing in and a sporting community that wants nothing but the best things are looking better .
So in spite of our politicians , like the IT industry , our sports too would shine just like India would in a decade as predicted by our beloved former president Dr Abdul Kalam Azad .
Our national anthem rose into the Chinese skies on the day we got the Gold
is there more proof needed than this !

( hope the leftists don’t declare a hartal for that )

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

rain in Al ain

Rains are no big deal in Kerala specially in this time of the year ,but to me in Al Ain it was a rare occurence .
In the past one year I had been here I had glimpsed a tiny drizzle once which piffled before it started so It was a delightful surpise to me when I heard distant thunder rumble today evening ,I ran down from the hospital cloistered in claustrophobic central AC to watch it as it is !
and what a sight it was ,cloudy and dark the skies broke into a heavy downpour on the parched grounds with thunder and lightening the works !

my mobile was out for the rare shots .
this summer had been exhaustingly hot touching 50 degrees centigrade and scorching like a furnace ,Al Ain luckily was not on the coast so there was no sweating as humidity was low but it compensated that with heat more than Dubai or Abudhabi,

so it is in winter too for it could get really cold .

Summer in the UAE is when people escape for thier holidays back to thier hometowns and all flights are overbooked and overcharged .workers are given compulsory rest for three hours in the noon or else they would fall down like overgrown dates !

For many of us living in ac capsules of buildings and cars the heat was felt only in transit from these points but it was really felt then .
the dates were bountiful in the many palm trees that lined the roads in neat lines ,they hung ripe and colourful .Some were angry red some burnished and some golden yellow .
The government which owns most of the palm trees encourage people to pluck them if they wanted being careful not to spoil the trees .

As one bit into a golden yellow date and its sweetness spread its honey like taste into the buds and bliss filled one .
some gave a rancid after taste some were gritty ,some smooth and velvetty.
there are more than 40 million palm trees in the UAE whcih is one the worlds lagest producers and exporters .
In august the Liwa festival is a great auction centre for dates .
dates are nutritious as they give more than 3000 calories /kg whicle a banana has only 920 and an orange around 420

Palm trees line all roads and they are planted in prescision ,full grown trees are brought from nursery and planted in new areas and in days they bloom !
Dates are free from cholesterol and have very low level of fats(0.2%) and sodium .

Quran mentions the birth of Jesus in Chapter 19, verses 23 - 26.
"And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: "Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!"
Then [the babe Jesus or Gabriel] cried unto her from below her, saying: "Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you;
"And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you."
"So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: 'Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'"

and so the hot days will linger till late september when it becomes cooler and then it is six months of cool times ( my favourite )............

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