Saivam : Delicious as home food Vijay’s new movie ‘Saivam’ (Tamil for Vegetarian) came as a answer to my question which I used to have whenever I came across his recent movies: Where is the director who made Madarasapattinam?

Sans big stars, a simple story and screenplay, and by assembling a group of almost fresh faces, Vijay has come out with a refreshingly beautiful film. The story is about a family getting together for a village festival after a long time. The ever dependable and versatile actor Nasser is the head of the family and is looking forward to see his family come together after three long years. He is also lover of non-vegetarian food, something that we are informed in a very interesting way in the opening sequence of the movie. Sara plays Tamizh, his grand-daughter who lives with him in the village along with her parents. Her father, we are told, is an MBA but chooses to stay back in the village and take care of agriculture. This is one example of the few interesting subtexts in the storyline. In one of the powerful dialogues of the movie her father says to his city living brother (who earlier chided him to move to city for better prospects than agriculture) – “Padikira kuzhandhainga enga irundhalum padikum anne” (Smart kids will learn wherever they study). It is just one small dialogue and the movie moves on. The screenplay doesn’t sag because of this. While the title ‘Saivam’ (Tamil for vegetarian) and the dedication (the movie is dedicated to those who promote vegetarianism) makes it amply clear what the movie’s message is, the message itself comes through the dialogues like the ones mentioned above. (Other reviews of the movie makes the same observation, and I agree)

The family gathers, and we are slowly introduced to the various members of their families and more importantly – their problems. At one point, the family realizes that they have forgotten to keep a promise made to their God – sacrificing a rooster. The rooster, named Pappa (Tamil for baby), is now three years old and is Tamizh’s favourite. It is decided to sacrifice Pappa on the last day of the festival and every member of the family is looking forward to all their problems getting solved. And then the rooster goes missing. The search for the rooster begins. Is Pappa found? Is it sacrificed? And do the problems gets solved? The rest of the movie deals with these questions.

The scenes depicting the search for the rooster should in all total nearly 30 to 40 minutes. Who would have thought that one can make a two hour movie pivot around the search for a rooster! The success of this movie is making this part interesting and engaging. While the rest of the movie and the end is predictable, one never loses interest and enjoys the search.

As with other Vijay’s movies, this too is a treat for the eyes and ears. The Chettinad architecture and landscape provides an excellent background for the visuals. Sung by Singer Unnikrishnan’s daughter Uthara, the Azhage Azhage song is an highlight of the movie.

All the characters, right from Nasser to Sara to the wife of the house servant, have acted really well. The performance of Sara’s cousin (I did not note his name) who comes from Dubai and finds it really difficult to get adjusted to the village life requires special mention.

Vijay’s penchant for getting inspired from other sources comes through in at least a couple of sequences. The scenes depicting the complaint in police station on the missing rooster and bringing in a charlatan to find the rooster (though this one turns out to be a significant move as far as screenplay is concerned) reminds one of similar scenes in Azhagarsaamiyin Kuthirai (replace rooster with a horse!). Nevertheless, this is one of Vijay’s beautiful efforts thus far.

I read in an interview that Vijay said that this movie is close to his heart. The end credits begins with a card that says ‘Naanum ippadi oru sambavathaala thaan saivathuku maarinennu amma sonnanga’ (My mother told me that I changed to vegetarianism because of one such incident) shows how close is this movie to him.



For four years during my engineering days, I travelled in Route 23C to commute to college.

The commute in the morning was usually spent on reading The Hindu or for the tests/exams. Had some wonderful friends sharing the commute too. Sabine Saravanan was the most regular and we both used to board at the Ayanavaram Bus Stand, the start point. Sitting next to him on exam days was useful in resolving any doubts or complex problems. Prakash used to join us most days at the Shanti Theatre bus stand as the bus entered Mount Road. Others like Keerthi and Sabesan joined us occasionally, as 23C was not their primary route.

The route touched several landmarks. The Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk; Purasawakkam Tank (fast becoming the second T Nagar of Chennai); Egmore Station; Commissioner Office; LIC; Spencer Plaza; Raj Bhavan; Anna University; Gandhi Mandapam; IIT; Kalashektra; Elliots beach (five minutes from Besant Nagar Bus Stand, the terminus).

I have an idea. Narrating the history of the city through different bus routes. Should give it a shot sometime. Or a newspaper can run it as a column in one of its city supplements.

Thanks to Google Transit, now covering Chennai, for the map of the route, and thus this post 🙂

The most asked question :P

A most asked question, in one form or the other, especially nowadays. I have answered this question already twice today, and my day is only starting!. I have found it not so difficult to answer though. And for once, I could not be accused of inconsistency at least. I always give the same answer.

I always say “This is my last year” 😛




A story that we should all know..

Today, Irom Sharmila of Manipur would enter the 10th year of her epic fast protesting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

On November 2, 2001 a bomb exploded near the 8th Assam Rifles Camp, near Malom, Manipur, India. In what was regarded as a retaliation, the Assam rifles personnel shot down 10 innocent people at the Malom bus stand, people whom had no connection with insurgents, young and old, men and women alike. Today a park, ‘Ten Innocents Park’ stands at that place.

What made the army men go on their killing spree is debatable, but it is clear that the mindless killing was a manifestation of the draconian AFSPA that was in force with almost the entire state of Manipur declared a ‘disturbed area’. Two days later, on November 4, 2001, Irom Sharmila declared a peaceful protest against the AFSPA, she went on a fast unto its repeal. To date, Irom Sharmila continues her epic fast. Of late, the government has indicated that it is open to revisit the AFSPA. But neither is the government showing any urgency in the matter, nor the issue has got the national attention that it deserves.

Hers is a story that we should all know, whether we agree with the AFSPA or not. Find here a poignant account of her tale by Shoma Chaudhury in Tehelka:

Also read a compelling argument for a ‘modest’ change in AFSPA by Siddarth Varadarajan in the columns of The Hindu:


Saw this new ad of Indian railways through a link from Facebook..

This reminded me of the Indian Railways Ad that we made as part of our Marketing Management Course in Term 2.

Here’s the Print Ad:

Here’s the AV Ad:

The source video and audio for the AV Ad is the movie Gandhi. Graphic Design of the Print Ad and Editing of the AV Ad by the one and only Suri 🙂

Darshit, Deepa, Nalini, Rashmi, Suri – Working with you on all those projects made some of my best days at IIM..

@Darshit – I know you would not like to be associated with this particular project 🙂

Will DMK do a CPM in TN?

I have been wanting to blog about this for sometime now. Today’s Editorial in The Hindu gave the much needed final push. It’s about the recent by-elections in Tamilnadu.

The editorial rightly points out the unusually high number of by-elections in the State – 11 in the last 4 years. And everytime its the DMK or its partner the Congress that has gone to win the by-elections, more often than not by pretty large margins. The last week’s by-election in Pennagram was no different. And everytime there has been noise in the media and by the opposition parties that money and goodies are being doled out by the ruling combine to win the elections. By the kind of noise made and the variety of sources that highlight this, it does some to hold some credibility. Not that the other parties are not giving money, only that they are not in power and thus the resources available are limited! Sad, but true. But the editorial goes on to argue that if it was money power that was indeed the reason behind the victories, they cannot be persistent – over 11 seats – and from all parts of the state. The editorial attributes the victories to the popular policies that the DMK government has implemented in the last 4 years. Now it is fairly known that The Hindu is DMK friendly but I never expected such lopsided editorial. True, that some of the government policies are good and true that the editorial does make mention of shortcoming in delivery of services. But what about the law and order issues! A sub-inspector got murdered in broad daylight, not less in the front of a minister and it finds no mention in the editorial. Even if one were to assume it may not be ‘relevant’ with respect to today’s editorial on the by-elections, the editorial leaves out some important questions about the by-elections themselves.

First, on the claim of the editorial that “No ‘election malpractice’ can explain such a strong, consistent performance.” Can the 11 victories themselves clear DMK combine of any allegations of cash and goodies distribution? One can get back and argue it only vindicates the charges!! The allegations have been consistent and from a wide section of the press. Some truth should be there.

What about the unusually high voter turnout?

In Pennagaram the voter turnout was 85%. This a by-election for an assembly seat where the assembly itself may get dissolved within a year. In the hot summer month of March. Wiki informs that all the three sets of by-elections in the state have witnessed high turnout – “89% in Thirumangalam, average 65% in the four constituencies in the second phase and average 80% in the two constituency in the third phase”. Now one can be happy that people have become more duty conscious and started turning out in huge numbers to exercise their franchise. Or can deduce that there is something wrong going on here. I am not aware of studies studying voter turnouts in by-elections and general elections. But I am willing to stick my neck out and claim that turnouts in by-elections got to be lower!

The growing noise about cash and goodies distribution in elections is a very disturbing trend and its sad to see even a responsible paper like The Hindu has given clean chit on a very superficial basis. My fear is that the DMK is becoming entrenched strongly and soon may end up doing what CPM did in West Bengal for years. It does not help matters when the leader of the primary opposition party is completely disinterested in discharging her duties and goes off to take rest in her estate. Jayalalithaa has consistently addressed the DMK government as a ‘minority’ government, but in effect it faces no opposition in the assembly. ADMK inspite of having a large strength in the Tamilnadu assembly in recent history has been quite ineffective in being a proactive and constructive opposition. It is only fitting that the ADMK was consigned to the third place in the Pennagaram election and lost its deposit. Will the Amma heed to the wake-up call! Else DMK can win the next election and entrench itself strongly which can well be a death blow to the ADMK.

Two things can affect this though:

The now open on and off succession fight between Stalin and Azhagiri. The Hindu editorial opines that the ‘succession is clearly worked out’!! But the fact is that the old man is struggling to reign in Azhagiri and the latter is banking on his strong showing in the southern districts in recent times to back up his claim. The battle lines are still not drawn completly, far from being settled!

The other game changer could be the Congress. Historically the combine which has the Congress always have an upper ‘hand’. With Rahul showing interest in Tamilnadu, if only it can settle the egos of its innumerable Congress ‘chiefs’, it may not be a bad idea for the party to go alone in the coming elections. Or if the rumours of patchup with ADMK turns out to be true, that could upset things for the DMK too. But for that Jayalalithaa has to wake up and take up more interest in the state.

Which way the Tamilnadu politics would go is anyone’s guess. But for me, I would not like to see an unbridled entrenched DMK in power as it is not in the long term interest of the state.

(Photo Source: Tuqlaq)

1. I would vote for DMK in the battle between DMK and ADMK if Stalin is projected as CM; for all his failings in early days, he is one of the better administrators in the state today. But I would never want to see an unchecked DMK and growing degradation of democracy in the state.

2. I have been tagged by S and D to reveal 7 random truths about myself that the readers may not be aware of. Now that by itself is a tall task! Add to that S wants them to be worthy enough to be ‘chuckling at’ and ‘twitter wickedly’ and D has put more peer pressure in her own inimitable way 🙂  I have come up with only one so far and I am sure it is ‘chuckle’worthy.  So its going to be some more time before I come with 6 more 🙂