A Phenomenon called Rajinikanth

The other day I was sitting at the reception of my dad’s firm, waiting by his usual delay to join us for a dinner programme.  Just then, the receptionist seemed to have contacted my dad’s PA and spelt the word. “Rajinikanth?”. Almost, all of us ( family and strangers) turned to gaze in astonishment, almost lionising that poor PA and ripping his identity for India’s Superstar. 

Now, why did I have to state that example in the first place?  It is to justify my belief about how sensational this actor has transpired to become to literally make that name his own (though he was named Shivaji Rao Gaikwad).  Pity on anyone else who attempts to copy his name, they are compromising on their identity.

With Raja Bahadur- Bus driver

“If one can’t dance , if one is dark and he is the finest celebrity, he is Rajinikanth”,  said our dare devil ,Ram Gopal Varma. Many a times I wonder what was in this man that made K.Balachander, ex-director of Tamil cinemas give him a break. To most of you who don’t know who Rajinikanth is ( pun intended ) let me make a brief ( unnecessary) attempt to talk about him and spice it up with interesting facts. Born in a Marathi family, he grew up losing parents and engaging in a bus services in Bangalore as a conductor. Dark skinned, colloquial slang and unskilled he was with naive acting skills. There was no reason what so ever for him to remain confident about his acting career , yet he did. He had dispassionate support from his bus driver, his partner who was his backbone and financial aid then. Even now our dear “Thalaiva” is known to furtively visit his housein a masquerade before launch of his films when he needs mental support from his benefactor , Raja Bahadur.

Meditation in the caves- Himalayas

Rajinikanth had swag, a unique and attractive way to keep his audience thrilled. He would catch a cigar with his mouth by throwing it up, he would turn his shades before wearing them and also sit erect and confident with his eyes piercing into others’. He had the charisma and confidence and most importantly, spiritual inclination. Media such as Vijay TV are known to have travelled along with him on his spiritual tours to Himalayas where he sought to meditate for tranquillity and connect with his masters.

A man of not only  billions in his account but a huge feather in his cap with million fans , plethora of fan clubs and busting audience who crave for his movies abroad such as Japan. With two daughters, loyal relationship with his wife and distributors (reimburses during flops) and simple chappals and kurtha during his award ceremony,  some really wonder how he has successfully maintained a stable mind and physic at the age of 60+.

To add onto Ram Gopal Verma’s quote “If a man cannot dance, if a man is not fair complexioned, if a man can afford a charted flight and politics yet remains grounded  and sports sandals, if a man is aged above 60+ and is yet romancing heroines of his daughter’s age on screen and people accept it, it has to be Rajinikanth!”

This is yet another story of rags to riches. So, next time you under estimate anyone around whom you consider undeserving or unequal to your stature , you never know! ~~

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Winnie The Pooh

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“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”

The one place we all loved to get lost in was the 100 acre wood- the land of Winnie The Pooh. The bear who loves honey was a part and parcel of everyone’s bookshelf and toy shelf. As we celebrate the 130th anniversary of Alan Alexander Milne this year, I can’t help but look back at his most popularly received work, the Pooh bear. He has made an attempt, a very successful one at that, to impart values that will help us see life in different perspectives through the yellow big fat bear.

“People say nothing is impossible. But I do nothing every day.”

According to Winnie The Pooh today is synonymous with his favorite day and “What’s going to be exciting today” is the same as saying “What’s for breakfast?” Winnie is a rather dull witted bear who is extremely warm hearted. He was happy with himself and considered his friends to be his greatest treasure. He always did all he could to turn his rather pessimistic friend Eeyore to a happy Donkey celebrating what he calls “The Pooh kind of day”.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Ignorance may not always be bliss when your world is larger than a 100 acre forest, but when intelligence is getting you into more trouble something is definitely wrong with the way our system works. Named by Milne after the Teddy of his son (Winnie) and the swan they met during a summer vacation (Pooh) the name stuck I our heads, but unfortunately the character did not. Endangered are these qualities of kindness and self-satisfaction. It probably time we look back at those cartoons and remind ourselves the qualities we were taught to grow up with. “Think it over, Think it under.”

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Cotton Candy, Lights and Rides

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Everyone likes to have fun, and once in a while, a bit of adventure too! For the daredevils as well as the bored kids, for the aunts as well as grandfathers, amusement parks encompass a world of fun, excitement as well as unmatched entertainment. Let us take a look at some of the features of these theme parks which cater to the interests of this versatile an age group.

The ambience is almost always, if not anything more, purely enthralling. The first few things that strike a person regarding amusement parks are cotton candy stalls and chocolate fountains. The colourful buildings and chiming bells, the balloons and cheering children; a theme park attracts people as a magnet attracts Alnico.

Paris’ Disneyland is home to some of the most famous rides like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, the most sensational roller coaster rides which make your insides squirm and the audience’s heart beat at the speed of sound. The attraction “It’s a small world” takes you on a boat ride through a scenery depicting the diverse cultures and traditions of various parts of the world. The Pirates of the Caribbean section in Adventure land, as well as Sleeping Beauty’s castle, are sensations that must not be missed! The Disneyland Toy Train is the best means of transport within the theme park, giving its passengers a tour of the entire place. Not to forget the beautiful parade of all the Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to Sleeping Beauty, which takes place, and offers great delight to its viewers.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

 

Rita - The fastest rollercoaster

Alton Towers, a theme park present in Staffordshire, is home to some of the most amazing thriller rides in the world. Oblivion, is the free fall which drops the passenger cart freely under gravity from a tremendous height; unfit for people with a weak heart to even consider watching! Enterpriser is a Ferris Wheel which rotates in a manner that the riders see the world in all orientations; front, back, left, right and upside down. Ripsaw is a ride known for suspending its passengers upside down and splashing them with water. Air and Nemesis are roller coaster rides where the riders are held onto seats by a mere seat belt and arm handles, while their legs hang into oblivion. As though this was not enough, the fastest roller coaster Rita, is also present in Alton Towers. A must visit for every enthusiast!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is a themed area in Orlando, Florida, spanning two theme parks. It is a place any Potterhead would die to visit! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a ride which exists within a re-creation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It takes the viewers through a journey of the life and times of Harry in his school years. The entire theme park consists of a re-creation of Hogsmeade, the Wizarding village, and the shops in it; Hog’s Head, Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks, and Zonko’s Joke Shop to name a few. The fact that the fantasy works of J.K.Rowling have been brought to life in this part of the world, makes every Potterhead’s life mission to pay a visit to this place and live Harry’s life at least for a short span of time!

Amusement Parks have this innate tendency to capture people’s interests. The colours, decorations, sounds and captivating rides make these places excellent spots to have a whole lot of fun with friends and relatives alike. Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Amusement Parks turn on several lights at once, for all their visitors and make them some of the most coveted and preferred holiday destinations of all times!

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Silver screen pandemonium

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It’s when your interest shifts to the freshly made crunchy popcorn that you realise the movie is totally not to your taste.  Be it the jarring noise of the Dolby digital in the theatre or the regular films that have failed to live up to their promise, films have always shaped or mobilized the crowds and nurtured their thinking.

In the yore, actors like MGR or Shivaji Ganeshan adopted socially responsible films, while few were definitely oriented towards their political agenda. If you carefully note, they were smart to choose socially acceptable films and it helped Dr.MGR become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu eventually. His films and its messages were clearly successful in pulling the audience to his side and shaping their thought process into electing him as their chief minister. He was being prudent in understanding that films do shape social thinking.

Films of the present day are more oriented towards glamour and have become a mere tool of entertainment. While the society has made it facile for men of all ages and all paunch sizes to fit into a hero image, they still cling on to accepting only a size zero or fair looking woman capable enough of causing incongruous sexual intentions to them. Keeping this gender bias aside, do you think the opportunities a female get in this glamorous domain is worth her dignity? How many films these days are without a regular item song, illogical fight sequences, liquor and smoke?

Our film industries at present have become commercialized to merely severe as a spectacle to its audience but not as an inspiration to be better citizens. Portraying raunchy scenes has literally become a tool and compulsion that it has taken society to a level where the film wouldn’t be accepted otherwise. How many films with genuine social messages, respect towards woman are being encouraged these days? We purchase tickets and don’t mind leaving the hall excited by the dirty foot tapping numbers and look at every single girl or woman with disrespect. At the same time we fail to voice our concerns to the film industry as socially responsible people.

eve-teasing

Most of you might have a misconception that western industry is much better. Infact, they too engage in standard concepts.  Every average film will have pets to not invoke animal rights issue, the hero is always alive, his co star is his pleasure toy atleast once on screen, blasts, noise and heavy technical manipulation,  a term most often used- “ Mr. President”  and at the end of the day Americans save the entire world . They are no far behind in instilling false ideas into their viewers.

Where is our world going? Isn’t the film industry not just for entertainment but for social responsibility too? Are we purchasing tickets to make more rapists and munch popcorn or to feel good and encourage social tolerance? Film industries are the ones responsible for the troubles most of the women face in terms of eve teasing, disrespect or worst physically being handled. We need to wake and shake ourselves of this rotten meal they are feeding us before we are poisoned to wake the devil in us. Exercise some self control and have gender acceptance only then change can be seen.

I must take this opportunity to list a few directors at present who embrace this conscious : Shekar Kammula  ( Tollywood ) , Shankar ( Kollywood )  , Ashutosh Guwariker( Bollywood) .  Encourage good films and directors . Let them make films for us and not for their career alone!  As you watch the film,  put yourself in the directors’ shoes. Will you make such films that your children might watch growing up ? Can you hold you heads up high? Think!………

 

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The Dark Side Of The Moon: A Review

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It’s been roughly 40 years since Pink Floyd conjured up the magic that is The Dark Side Of The Moon. The Legacy of the album that defined progressive rock lives on, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide. This was the English Band’s eighth studio album released way back in 1973. The album ebbs and flows its way through its 43 minute running time and addresses the central concept of madness. Multi-track recording, technology alien to that time, was implemented in the entirety of the album resulting in an experience like no other. The iconic prism album art is one of the most recognised in the world.

The band, led by Roger Waters, embarked to create a concept album that dealt with the stress and pressure of modern living, partially inspired by the turmoil faced by ex-member Syd Barrett. With that binding notion in mind the album was designed for continuous play with fuzzy borders between songs. Sound effects are aplenty and scattered throughout the album and the unifying sound of the heartbeat reminds us of the human experience.

The album begins with ‘Speak To Me’ and ‘Breathe’ - soothing reminders of the blissful life. It is the symbolic ‘birth’ of the album and any innocence portrayed in the verses is soon to be shattered in ‘On The Run’. It’s an ode to the hectic regime of today, complete with the buzz of the airport and hysterical laughs. ‘Time’ is you growing up and oh-so-disillusioned. Gilmour’s resounding licks punctuate Waters’ lyrical serenade and climaxes with a tremolo-filed solo. However the pinnacle of the album is reached with ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’. Void of any lyrics, a simple piano riff is transformed into something of beauty by the wailing vocals of Clare Torry. Oozing of raw emotion, the song is an allegory for death. The most commercially successful track however, was ‘Money’ (Can’t even stand the irony).  Greed and consumerism are mocked with panache and the song is built on the sounds of clinking coins and cash registers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qFYmsuC01c

“New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I’ll buy me a football team.”

‘Brain Damage’ is a schizophrenic breakdown of staggering proportions. ‘Eclipse’ is the orchestral finale of the album with the final words “and everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” This immediately fades into the soft thump of the human heart with which the album symbolically closes.

Musically the album speaks like no other, complete with saxophone, recorder and replete with doses of strat. The spoken parts of the album found their origin from unlikely sources. For example the intro to ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ were what the studio doorman had told them during recording-

 “I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do: I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it — you’ve got to go sometime”

Easily the most astounding album of the 70’s, it showcases Pink Floyd in their prime. Whether you’ve heard Pink Floyd or not, I definitely suggest you pick this up. Find a place to yourself, press play and you’ll find yourself lost. So, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

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Book Review - The Five People you meet in Heaven

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This is a unique tale of an old man Eddie, who works as the maintenance man at Ruby Pier, an amusement part by the ocean. Ironically, the story begins at the end, at Eddie’s death, as he encounters a fatal accident at the Pier on his 83rd birthday. However, “all endings are beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” The book tracks the events in Eddie’s life after death, with periodic flashbacks of his birthdays on earth. It is an imaginary account of what follows a man’s death. “Eddie Maintenance” witnessed a mishap atop Freddy’s Free Fall, as one of the attraction’s carts was titled and its passengers clung, traumatized, to only a safety bar. In the process of setting things right, the passengers were rescued but the car’s cable snapped and it plunged downwards to the ground, uncontrolled. In a stampede that ensued, a little girl was stuck and as Eddie lunged to save her, he experienced a stunning impact. Eddie was dead.

The story goes on to illustrate Eddie’s after life. He wakes up in heaven with the only knowledge of two small hands in his own, and recollects nothing more. In his apprehension to find out if he saved the girl or not, he stumbled upon a man he recognised only by the colour of his skin. It was blue. This man explained to Eddie how he had been waiting in line to teach Eddie a life lesson. He explained how four others were also waiting to enlighten him with anecdotes from his own life. What he didn’t realize on earth, he was to be taught up here. The author has creatively drawn in flashbacks of select birthday celebrations to parallel the events happening up in heaven.

Eddie, a lonely war veteran, has seen the worst days of his life when his camp was taken hostage in a foreign land. The Captain, in whom he laid all his trust and reverence, was the second person he met in Heaven. While the Blue Man taught him how every life is connected, and strangers are the family you are yet to meet, the Captain taught him the significance of sacrifice in each one’s life. With each person Eddie meets in heaven, he is enlightened further.

The third person he meets teaches him about forgiveness, and this virtue melts his heart initially hardened by hatred towards his father. The fourth person he met was his wife, the woman he truly loved till his last breath. She taught him about the immortality of love. She explains that even after the death of the person you love, the memories you nurture strengthen your affection towards them. Thus love lives on forever. The last person Eddie met was a little girl who gave him his final piece of enlightenment. She made him realize that it is a lie to think you’re not worth anything.

However, each lesson comes at a price. Every anecdote shakes Eddie’s insides. Each person’s life has been significantly affected by Eddie, without him even realizing it in most cases. To find out how, to experience the true essence and lightness of this extraordinary tale, and to discover the little girl’s fate, one must certainly read this book! In Amy Tan’s words, “this book is a gift to the soul.”

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Breaking Bad

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‘Breaking Bad’. The American crime drama series that was simultaneously gripping, addictive, trend-setting and path-breaking. Created by Vince Gilligan, the show, which ran from 2008 to 2013, over five seasons, is ranked as one of the best TV shows ever.

It follows two years in the life of Walter White( brilliantly portrayed by Bryan Cranston) , a chemistry teacher turned drug manufacturer. When Walter comes to terms with the fact that he has lung cancer, his immediate thought is to ensure that his family shouldn’t suffer financially after his death. This leads him to turn into a methamphetamine manufacturer in partnership with one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman (portrayed by Aaron Paul). Over the course of two years, he becomes one of the kingpins of the drug trade.

The series, labelled a ‘contemporary western’ by its creator, is refreshingly and jarringly different in its treatment. It is an exploration of the morality of man, the blurred line between right and wrong and basically, emphasises the fact that your sins have a way of catching up with you. According to the creator Vince Gilligan, “I feel some sort of need for Biblical atonement, or justice, or something. I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen. I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell.

The show makes you go crazy, I tell you. And makes you deeply analyze your morals. You keep giving Walter a break, sympathising with him. But there comes a point when you are not even sure if he is the protagonist or antagonist.  And then you realize you are actually rooting for the bad guy.  Walter’s character is just so morally questionable that he doesn’t let you decide if you want him to win.  Both Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston are brilliant and keep you riveted. Believe me when I say it’s one hell of a ride!

The show received widespread critical acclaim and the fifth and final season of the show received a Metacritic (review aggregator website) score of 99/100. One of the most relevant shows in recent times, this series is the highest rated TV series ever.

The show won the Golden Globe 2014 for Best TV drama and also won Bryan Cranston his first ever Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV series. The spin-off to the show titled ‘Better Call Saul’ is in the works.

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Septimus Heap, a review.

When the average creative enthusiast comes across a reference to fiction, their thoughts cross over to magic, myth, action, heroes, and a divine purpose. They follow a character often isolated from society, or on the run. Often interactions between the characters is of fear, or awe.
But then you come across books where the hero lives in an alternate world, living his own life, facing challanges which test his mettle without creating a tragedy. These stories touch the soul as people can relate to the setting: Of living life as it comes without focusing too much on joy or sadness.
The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage takes a step towards this  premise.a young army expendable and the friends he makes there generates a different perspective in the boy as he grows hardworking, reasonable and understanding. His experiences and adventures through flight, time travel, dark magic, an ill fated quest, training a dragon and rescuing a damsel possessed by a malevolent spirit are all portrayed vividly. But the selling factor is the extent to which the characters have been brought to life, and their inter personal relationships given focus. Whether it be sibling rivalry, a mother’s anxiety, a sister’s affection, a neighbor’s warmth or a colleague’s jealousy, the series is filled with gray people, not on the side of light or darkness, but in the realm between. This model’s the real world well, and the author’s skill and efforts in creating a world filled not just with magic, but emotion as well is thoroughly appreciated.

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The Legacy Of Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is 127 years old. Only in his wildest dreams would Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have imagined his legacy to live on beyond his generation, let alone his century. Yet the English sleuth lives on, his avatar taking one form or another in cinema, television and literature. What is the reason behind such enduring popularity?

BBC’s Sherlock

That’s is quite elementary, my dear Watson. Firstly it’s the character’s compliance to any era. Sherlock Holmes’ charisma and character, along with his methods of deduction and logic are timeless. He could very well fit the 21st century just as easily as the Victorian era. A testament to that is obviously BBC’s television crime-drama series Sherlock. The series aspires to be a creative reproduction of Conan Doyle’s beloved detective, set in a turbulent 21st Century London. Benedict Cumberbatch pulls off his role as the ‘highly functioning sociopath’ in an age of texting and blogging.

Downey adds panache to Sherlock

Similarly, the Sherlock Holmes movie series, with Robert Downey Jr. playing the man, attracted many a youngster to the charming detective. Although considered a rather adrenaline fuelled, action-packed version of Sherlock, it still remains faithful to his roots. This is because Conan Doyle has time and again portrayed Sherlock to be an expert with ‘single stick’ fencing and an amateur boxer.

Quoting the producer of the movie, Lionel Wigram-

“A lot of the action that Conan Doyle refers to was actually made manifest in our film. Very often, Sherlock Holmes will say things like, ‘If I hadn’t been such an expert short [single] stick person, I would have died in that’ or he would refer to a fight off screen. We’re putting those fights on screen.”

Other popular adaptations of Sherlock Holmes include an avatar in Detective Comics, a comic book series from DC. Another famous portrayal is Jeremy Brett’s in the 1984 Sherlock Holmes TV Series. Sources indicate that there are over 25,000 Holmes-related productions and products in total.

Creative privileges see no limits as we see Batman share a moment with the Englishman.

The second reason behind his popularity is the story’s copyright protection, or lack thereof. In the UK, all of Conan Doyle’s copyrights expired in 1980, and the character is now in the public domain. In the USA, all works published before 1923 are free to be used by all, but the last 10 stories in The Case Book Of Sherlock Holmes remain protected. This implies that if you want to cook up a story on the Baker Street resident, no permission or royalty is required. Although the Doyle estate begs to differ. The fact remains that it isn’t rocket science, it’s the law (which is far more complicated, trust me).

The multitude of incarnations of Sherlock however does good to the man at the end of the day. After all, a good character evolves with times. To the teens of this generation Sherlock will be pictured not as a pipe-puffing genius, but a consulting detective on nicotine patches.

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