Monday, April 18, 2005

second information report - chandramukhi

Hey ..
(Before we proceed any further on this, if you are a Rajni fan, please close the broswer, go to the cinema and just enjoy)

Can one manufacture an atom bomb using a test tube? Yes. Mix and stir in a test tube - 50% Ambulimama stories, 25% of the ghost-movies like BHOOT, a pinch of Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets and a whole LOT of SUPER STAR in it - you get an explosive hit called CHANDRAMUKHI. Release it in Tamilnadu and in one day in one show in one movie hall it will make more money than what a sum of all the above have managed to collect individually over years. My column being '..on a second thought..', I watched this movie twice and filing my 'second information report' here.

What can one say about a movie for which the District Collector defines the ticket prices in every hall ? My third world town, where a balcony ticket is Rs.12/- fixed the price for Chandramukhi to be a whopping Rs.40/- .Considering other places where the balcony tickets are nowehere less than Rs.225/- I had a good deal. The movie blasted off in the theatres on April 14 with the first shows starting as early as 7:00 AM. There were paalabhishekams for the cutouts at 5:30 AM. The reports started coming in from 10-11:00 AM declaring the movie as a box office hit. One hasnt seen so much anticipation and feverish waits even during election times.

The movie is not in the BAADHSA or PADAYAPPA genre. But it is definitely not another BABA. It is more of the ARUNACHALAM kind. The storyline is too childish and if it were not for the superstar, this movie would have been one another poorly made Vittalachayar remake in Tamil. The first half is better and a bit faster- the second makes one twitch in the seats. There are no political connotations or statements. Some of the jokes are third rated and have not been seen in some of the recent Rajni hits. The songs are not very catchy and the dances are not very impressive either. No one discusses much about the movie after walking out of the theater.

Who the hell cares ???? It is a SUPER STAR movie, for Godssake. From the moment the letters S,U start appearing with the big 'hey-hey' it is applause all the way. Rajni has risen again, after 6 long years and this is unmistakably the superstar in his full form again. Rajni's entry and the first stunt are just way too amazing and nobody is found sitting in his seat in the theater. And when he starts Devuda devuda one can hear just roaring & defeaning applause all around. The Zorro is back!! And back with a bang. There is no need for a story, song, dance, dialogues in the movie - A smile, a style - it is all that is needed.

The costumes need to be mentioned. All lead women in the movie wear sarees all through - even songs. Nayanthara's cotton saree selection is very good - suited for the current season here in the South. Superstar sports my favorite boot-cut in few scenes. The gaja - colorful specs - are a bit too much, though. Rajni's lips and Nayanthara's hips (particularly in Konja Neram song - suddenly she looks fat!!) are to be ignored. Neverthless, Nayanthara looks like a nice next door girl in middle class families.

The song shot in Turkey has a scene where there is a Communist flag flying just over superstar's head .. dont know if it was on purpose. Vadivelu is just way too good in the comedy relief and the way he messes his face is very funny. The other comedy of course is Jyothika dancing ;). The scene where Nasser slaps Rajni is unnecessary and irritating. Also when kites appeared before the herione introduction, I remembered the kite-scene of BABA, thank God - this was not a similar mess.
But those of you who are still reading this rambling - just stop here, go and watch the movie in a big cinema hall full of Rajni fans. Dont miss the beginning...

for this is the RETURN OF THE KING....


Saturday, April 16, 2005

journey into history - gangai konda cholapuram


Lucky you that I have been in vacation for so long and gave a big break to my blogs. I have been tasting authentic sweet, karam and coffee from Chennai and rest of Tamilnadu and having a great time here back home.
I had planned to visit some of the little known temples and forts in the South when Iam here and as per that plan I visited Gangai Konda Cholapuram a few days back. This is the city built by the Chola emperor Rajendra Chola about a thousand years back. The central temple is an exact replica of the Brahadeeswara temple at Thanjavur built by Raja Raja Chola, Rajendra's father. The city was the capital of Chola dyansty for a brief period of time. Today it is a very small unknown village in the Cuddalore district near Chidambaram. All that remains is the temple and the history.

The Cholas were ran one of the most powerful dynasties in the South for a few hundred years. They were in constant battles with Cheras, Pandyas and Pallavas - the other popular dyansties in the region. Raja Raja Chola was one of the most powerful and popular kings of the revived chola empire. He consolidated his power base in the south and kept the other kings and feudal powerlords under his control. His son Rajendra went far ahead and added parts of Northern India and Ceylon to his empire.

Rajendra Chola went as far as the Ganges and brought rocks from the river bed to construct his city and the central temple. He also brought water from the Ganges river for the abhishekam of the huge Siva-linga in the temple. An interesting point to note is that Rajendra lived during the time when one of the world's most devoured kings and the man who by far ruled the biggest kingdom of this earth lived & ruled - Ghengiz Khan. Their routes crossed - almost. When Rajendra camped on one side of the Ganges, Ghengiz Khan camped on the other side of the river. The immenent battle never happened. Whether Rajendra was afraid of the Mongol warlord or whether Ghengiz was not interested in India will never be known - but the two powerful kings never met in battle or in peace for the better. Rajendra returned to Thanjavur and Ghengiz went to conquer Asia Minor and extended his empire from as far as Portugal till Korea.

Today the Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple has been taken over the Archeological Survey department. It is being maintained decently well. The regular pujas still do happen at the main shrine. This place is a tourist attraction and thanks to all the new cars in the Indian sector, people need new places to visit and this seems to be popular in this belt. There is no entry fee, a surprise again.. there is a parking fee though. The madhil suvar still remains, but the entrance arch & few sculptures are broken. There is a main temple and four small temples surrounding it. The main temple has a wonderful conical gopuram with a big carved stone at the top. The shadow of the top never falls on the ground. There are wonderful admirable sculptures all around. They seem to have a red tint all through. There are also stone inscriptions in a number of places referring to Kulothunga Chola (a later Chola) and their trade/relation with central India.I tried reading some of these with my kindergarten knowledge of Manipravala, and the scriptures were decipherable to a small percentage. The customary bull nandi is huge as usual, but looks recent than the temple.

The temple has a sprawling lawn all around and inspite of the burning heat in the middle of the day, I found this place extremely plesant to walk, loiter and even catch a quite nap. Sitting in the huge madhil-compound I was watching a dad telling his young son of about 7-8 years the story of Raja Raja and Rajendra ..the kid was attentively listening and asking a few questions too. It was a lovely sight. For India is a land of history, South India is a land of cultures and tradition and this heritage lives in its temples. Gangai Konda Cholapuram is a must see and the legacy & significance of such places need to be passed to upcoming generations.


Friday, April 01, 2005

managing publicity


"There is no world to take over anymore. It's only corporations." - This is a dialogue spoken by Number-2 from Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery. And no kidding - this dialogue is one another sample to say what a genius 'Austin' is.

There was a time when movie stars where the celebrities. Then the list extended to sports. Later the political leaders formed their own fan groups. Hero-worship was owned by these three major professions. And the rest of the world went about managing their own business when the film/sport/polictical stars roamed about having cut-outs, addressing huge audiences, socialising with the public etc., But the times have changed. The latest addition in this list are CEOs of multinational corporations.

Management is a very much used term since late 80s. Until a few years before, Management was a term used only by Hardvard grads and Peter Drucker. There were good Managers and even great Leaders shaping the futures of huge MNCs, but they were not thought of as superstars. However in the late 80s this situation started to change and by early 90s, CEOs started becoming popular with people who know about the industry. The dull press announcements of a new CEO of an organization became more like the President-inauguration ceremony and even the selection and hiring of Lead-man became a huge speculation exercise.

It was being widely recogonized that great CEOs could steer a company to greatness. And these CEOs in turn recogonized the fact that they were being treated as superstars in the industry and in the World. There came these huge autobiographies and anecdotes, management mantras which even became syllabi at the top B-schools. Jack Welch, Lou Gerstner, Andy Grove, Akio Morita, Lee Iaccocca, Bill Gates - and much more fell into the category. They furiously wrote bestsellers teaching the rest of the world on how to 'lead'..And you will find every management graduate and a prospective manager holding copies of their works.

In the early 2000s, the CEOs seemed to have gone one step ahead. They are going towards attaining a complete public status as celebrities. Donald Trump is an almost-sitcom star with his Apprentice - a novel, but dramatic show where in the end he hires someone to work for him. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic started a similar show. Both these people authored books with crazy titles such as How I lost my virginity etc., Both these people star in advertisements. They mingle with us commoners and make sure that the news gets public. In short, they have become full fledged celebrities while still holding their current position of managing their corporations.

In contrast names like Charles Coffin, Thomas Watson are rarely recogonized and they built some of the most popular corporations today - GE & IBM. It is not right to compare the styles of yesteryear CEOs to that of today, but it is unfortunate that most of the CEOs popular with the public today have only mastered the art of managing publicity and not their companies to be exact. Trump is running under heavy losses in most of his ventures and Branson was about to shutdown a whole fleet of operations a few months back.

It is all about publicity stunts and gimmicks. And a great manager gets that adjective 'great' only when he/she is able to manage publicity enough. One has got to write a book, meet with poor people in the Third World Countries, donate heavily to environment, AIDS & education - research, appear in the TV as much as possible ..... ... then we shall decide if he is a great CEO who ran his company successfully or not.

(Inspired by the latest stunt by Sir Branson)