The Incredible Dork-ness

Dork - Sidin Vadukut

Dork – The Incredible Adventures of Robin Einstein Varghese
By Sidin Vadukut
Published by Penguin
239 pages | Rs. 199

Though I have become skeptical of reading the debut books by bloggers, I couldn’t skip this one as it was ordered already. I haven’t read such a hilarious book which all of you who have worked in an IT or consulting business could relate to. Oh and many things personally too. 🙂 Like the immediate passing out after the first couple of pegs and not remembering anything the next day, for example. 😉 The story has everything that a classic comedy movie needs. If Steve Martin read it, he would make this to a movie and play the lead role himself.

And those who aren’t working in  multi-nationals would still be able to enjoy this book. The book is a page-turner, brilliantly put together in the form of diary notes with absolute suspense moments that would make you turn the pages faster (you know that thirst we all have for gossip and to get a peek into others lives). There is never a boring line, except for the TV interview script towards the end. It was becoming “err…” with the excessive amount of Dork-ness in that portion, but then the story ended there, so you’re saved (and I did skip those couple of pages for the overdo of the author).

But buy it, read it, except for that TV show transcript and boys, you might find a bit of your own dork-ness in Robin Varghese and girls, there you have an adorable silly young man. What you won’t stop doing through out the read is smiling. A great start for blogger Sidin Vadukut with a debut novel.

Categories: Books, Review

Notes & Neurons

Thanks to Arun, I could see this video from the World Science Festival on the topic of how people from different cultures respond differently to music. What I found interesting is that towards the end of Part 4 of the discussion, a scientist says that the developing fetus, by the age of 12 weeks, can hear sounds so just-born infants would already have months of exposure to music. A friend from Chennai told me that he had experimented with his first born and his son immediately responded to the song he was played to while he was still in his momma’s tummy. I think I am going to try that too. 🙂 Am not sure if it is a positive thing though, because I wouldn’t want my kid to end up liking a certain form of music rather than getting exposed to a wide variety of music.

Another odd thing I noted was that the Indian artists who played in the function were sitting idle when their team mate, a Cellist, was introduced to the audience whereas the Cellist applauded when both the Indian artists were introduced. Do we ever learn how to give and accept the appreciation?

Now, on to the videos. If you don’t want to watch it all, must watch are Part 3 and Part 4.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus

Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment? Join host John Schaefer, Jamshed Barucha, scientist Daniel Levitin, Professor Lawrence Parsons and musical artist Bobby McFerrin for live performances and cross cultural demonstrations to illustrate music’s note-worthy interaction with the brain and our emotions.

This event took place on June 12, 2009 in the Gerald Lynch Theater at the City University of New York.


Categories: Music

Listen: Yanni – Voices

Yannis VoicesYanni – Voices

Disney Pearl Series
Published by Universal Music
2 Discs | Rs. 395

In my childhood, I used to believe that vocal music is supreme to the instrumentals and the instrumental music is there to provide a kind of background support for the vocals. As I grew up, I understood and felt that a voice, in the world of music, is just another instrument. There is nothing supreme to it, perhaps except one thing – that the instrument performs itself and the human touch to it (the voice) can evoke a lot of emotions. Perhaps that way the vocals stand out, but still a comparison is impossible as you can get elevated to a different plane when you listen to a musician playing a single key on a Piano at a certain note or a bow touches one particular base note on a Cello. One such moment of music can move you to tears or certain kind of joy that nothing else in this world can bring. That out of the world experience is what music can bring to you.

So why do I crib so much about it now? Because I recently bought and heard this new album from Yanni – Yanni – Voices. A musical album with some wonderful power-packed voices blending in with Yanni’s music. What more could you ask for? Yanni has worked with four young and new vocalists and made this album happen. The four vocalists are absolutely fantastic and you would enjoy each and every track. But for hardcore Yanni fans though, you would find the vocals to be distracting when you hear the familiar and popular Yanni tunes with the vocals. For example, when I heard the track “Mi Todo Eres Tu (Until the Last Moment)”, I wished of the vocals just faded away and the music alone remained. Other than that, it is a wonderful work and you have a bonus DVD along with footage of the singers performing with Yanni. There are 17 tracks totally in the audio CD featuring four singers – Nathan Pacheco, Leslie Mills, Chloe and Ender Thomas – and some singles from Yanni. Go and grab it now.

Categories: Entertainment, Music, Review

The story never ends…

Version 1: A father whose wife left him has to raise his kid by himself
Version 2: A mother whose husband was killed has to raise her kid by herself

Version 1: The father and son live in a rented apartment
Version 2: The mother and daughter live in a rented house

Version 1:
Father is broke, without money and a job
Version 2: Mother is broke, without money and a job

Version 1: The dad skips paying rent each month and tries to escape the landlord
Version 2: Mom does the same.

Version 1: On returning one day, they find that their house has a new door-lock put by the landlord
Version 2: Same as above

Version 1: With the small luggage they have, the dad and son spend a day in the park and the night in a railway station.
Version 2: The mom and daughter do the same.

Version 1: When they try to spend a night in the railway station toilet, people knock on the door outside and the dad struggles to not let his son  know what is happening.
Version 2: When they try to take a bathe in the railway station toilet, people knock on the door outside and the mom struggles to not let the daughter know what is happening.

Version 1: The dad tries the best to make it seem like they are playing a game.
Version 2: Mom does the same.

Version 1: The dad’s last hope for money, a medical device, is being stolen.
Version 2: Mom’s last bills of money that she gets after selling the gold ornaments, is being stolen.

Version 1: Dad donates blood in a hospital for money.
Version 2: Mom does the same.

Version 1: The dad takes a cab drive, but has no money to pay, so asks the driver to drive even more, finally when the cab stops the parent runs away as he has no money to pay.
Version 2: Mom does the same, except that here it is an auto rickshaw, not a cab.

Version 1: The dad applies for an internship at a big-wig stock broking company and finally gets it which puts the end to their financial mysery.
Version 2: The mom completes her MBBS and gets a job in Kuwait which will put an end to their financial mysery.

By now, you all would have guessed it right that with version 1, I was referring to the 2006 movie “Pursuit of Happyness” which has an amazing performance by Will Smith that brought him an academy award nomination for the best performance in a lead role. Version 2 is a Malayalam movie that runs in packed houses across Kerala now. The movie name is “Kadha Thudarunnu” and is directed by the much celebrated director Sathyan Anthikkad.

Sathyan is talking to the media, in the TV etc, as if he’s just re-invented the Malayalam cinema whereas it seems to be just a copy of a beautiful Hollywood movie. He even lifted some of the story events scene-by-scene from the original movie, added a bit of his usual “social message” thingy, some Kerala touch here and there and made his movie. I think the writers of the Hollywood movie should sue Sathyan for millions of dollars so that it will teach a lesson to the copy-cats in our movie industry.

This is not a first time that pioneers (?) like Sreenivasan and Sathyan Anthikkad have been accused of plagiarism. But we have always ignored it, thinking how it is possible that the people of their stature and ‘calibre’ can do such a shameful thing. Only when the director combo Siddique Lal became massively popular and accused Sathyan Anthikkad for not giving them credits for the storyline of the movie “Naadodikkaattu” that we seriously gave it a thought. When numerous other people came out in open against Sathyan and Sreenivasan we did not give it a damn as those people were not known names. Siddique Lal was lucky that their talent got the deserving recognition so their words became credible to the public. What about the other unlucky souls?

When a good friend of mine emailed me about the parallel story line of both the movies, I brushed it away. I thought it is a generic response and kind of a popular trend these days to ‘investigate’ the original versions of a movie. But then I watched Kadha Thudarunnu on last Sunday and I was totally stunned. I don’t know what Sathyan was thinking. In the old days, this trick would have worked because very few people watched or had access to Hollywood movies but to do it in these days Sathyam Anthikkad must have had some guts. Or he is seriously insulting the Malayalees as a society that it doesn’t have exposure to cinema outside India. Whichever way it is, it is a crime and I wonder why nobody in the media is talking about it except for one or two TV channels.

PS: Another movie which is “written” by actor-writer Sreenivasan, has Mohan Lal in the lead and marks the entry of singer M G Sreekumar as a music director, has been ordered to stay its release by a court order. The movie was scheduled to release in the second week of May.

The stay was given, following a complaint from K Vijayan from Mukkam, accusing senior actor and scriptwriter Sreenivasan to have lifted his story and used the same for ‘Oru Naal Varum’. Vijayan says that he has met Sreeni once with this story who dismissed it as a naive one with no big comedies. Later Vijayan published the same in the title ‘Ee Kaliveedil Ninnu’ in a popular magazine. Sreenivasan was not available to respond of this new accusation. [via]

As usual, the tactic of both Sathyan Anthikkad and Sreenivasan to face these allegations is to say that “this doesn’t deserve a response” or “these people do it just for fame“(?). So much to our great, ‘creative‘ souls.

Categories: Entertainment, Movies

BP and UC

While skipping through the photo galleries of the protest against BP oil spill in America, I saw the following slogans:

BP = $ Over Life
BP profits: The planet & people pay

For a moment, I thought about UC (Union Carbide) and the Bhopal verdict that came out recently. 25 years taken for a weak verdict to come out. It is a shame on us by itself. Add to that the reports of our own Government tried to help Warren Anderson escape the country back in ’84.

Now that the oil has spilled over to the shores of America, killing 11 workers and many species, and demanding BP to clean it’s shores of the USA, would the American Government now understand what it means to a country that lost 20,000 people and the chemical exposure of over 500,000 people in the Bhopal gas tragedy? And help put Warren Anderson to trial?

Categories: International, Nation

Social networking, in the real world

Web 2.0 has given us so many tools to keep in touch with each other. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, Foursquare etc, you know what is happening in your friend’s life, where he/she is standing right now, what he/she does or thinks right now and see the photo records. Then you can let others have a peek into what happens in your life too. BUT – does that really satisfy your need to interact with real people in real life?

I remember this once incident from a New Year’s eve an year back. I was single, all my friends have had other engagements or parties to attend and I had no one to keep me company to celebrate the New Year’s eve. And I felt so lonely. I logged into Gtalk, Twitter, Facebook and Orkut – but none of them seemed to matter and they just appeared to be a strange world. The whole virtual world seemed to be fake, an illusion without a human touch.

I had this thought particularly when a friend called me last Saturday and told me how lonely he felt that day as he was alone at home. He saw some of his old friends in the neighborhood and he said they also seemed to be lonely in a kind of way and he felt the need to network in the real world. Those neighbors were his childhood friends with whom he lost that touch in the course of time and he said now he understands the value of keeping a good network in the real world.

Sometimes, the virtual world seems to be throwing information overload (links! links! links!) and its kind of losing that personal touch that we all crave for. The vast network that it offers and the way it redefines the word “friend” (everyone you meet on the social networking sites is a “friend”) are beginning to seem very boring. And it makes me want to go back to that smaller world of friends that I had many years back. Smaller but thicker. These days, I am trying to spend an evening on every weekend with the childhood friends and it gives a lot of comfort and free air to spend time with them, sharing even idiotic things, laughing it off. It is so comforting. And when I see the rush of people to add more and more people to their friends list just to showcase “I’ve got N number of friends!“, I wish that they understood the value of networking with real people, in the real world. Or keeping in touch with the real thick friends they have, how small it might be in numbers.

Categories: Notes

Radhika singing in Telugu films

Around the same time, back in 2008, I had the opportunity to introduce a wonderful singer to the music blogging world – Radhika Sethumadhavan. Radhika had then moved on to study music in A R Rahman’s school in Chennai. Now she has made her entry into the film music with two songs in the Telugu movie, Pappu.

Listen to the songs (Mellaga, Pappu) at Raaga and let her know what you think. You can also listen to her songs in her music blog – Radhika the Musician.

Categories: Entertainment, Music