The Help – White man still saves the world

I watched the movie “The Help” tonight. The movie is pretty innocent in it’s outer line. The story of a good Samaritan, who happens to be a white woman, helps save the black domestic help a platform to speak and thus help the black community gain the confidence back. But on the inset, it pauses some disturbing views.

Skeeter, the journalist, moves to Jackson only to find a job that will help her gain some experience before she could re-apply at the Harper Row publishing in New York. Meanwhile, her sympathy towards the Help plants the idea of a book on black domestic help. Evidently, it is not ‘the cause’ that drives her to edit a book of stories from domestic help, but the hope that she finally may take a shot at her dream job. It is clear from her enthusiasm in attending the calls from New York and asking the publisher to make sure the book gets published. Or from the scenes like, when Minny asks her for an assurance that they wouldn’t get hurt for telling the truth, Skeeter doesn’t utter a word and Minny finds herself an ‘insurance’. When the publisher asks for stories from a dozen people than only two, Skeeter steps back again and makes no effort to take the story forward. And there again, Minny and Aibileen come to help organizing the volunteers to tell the stories.

The best part of it is when the daughter Skeeter confronts her mother about why her childhood nanny was sent away. A sorry mother tells the story of how she ‘had to’ get rid of the poor old lady who had worked for 29 years in the household – raising the kids, cleaning the household and cooking – because the old lady’s daughter came to visit her mother while there were VIPs inside. Skeeter then tells her mother, “you love Rachel, I know you do”, which was classic! The mother sure has ‘loved’ her Help’s daughter enough to insult them in front of a bunch of ladies and shut them out and close the door on their faces, and for what? For Rachel giving her mother a surprise visit. She sure has a lot of love. And she tells the daughter, “courage skips one generation”. And finally, Skeeter seemingly decides to move to New York to escape the men and mess of Mississippi. Very courageous. Hmm.

In essence, The Help is a movie in the white-man-saves-the-world genre. But you’ve got to give it to the wonderful performances of it’s actors if you held on to your seats throughout. Viola Davis is amazing as Aibileen. I wish she wins and Oscar for best actress in a leading role this time. Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson and Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook come to a close second with their supportive roles. It is for these three ladies that you’ve got to clap.

Funny thing is that this fiction is set at the peak of the Civil Rights movement in America. Even then they couldn’t do without a sympathetic white woman saving a whole community of black women. And by doing what? Dictating the stories that would help her secure a dream job and for being a mere speculator throughout all the events that took place.

And to you my fellow reader – if you were pitying the whites and angry about the practice of racism, look into your own yard. Replace the color there with caste here. Then you will get a picture of how messed up a civilization that you were born in.

And here is a funny poster of the movie which says it all.

Blogswara, and taking stock of 2011

First of all, I’m happy to announce that Blogswara has released it’s 7th online album called Trunk Call on January 1st, 2012. I’m so glad to see that the support and enthusiasm for independent music has still not died down and Blogswara still generates interest after all these six years and six albums. Do listen to the four new tracks in Hindi, Malayalam English and Arabic. Do share it if you like the songs.

The year 2011

2011 was not a great year at all. My music posts and ordinary blog posts have seen a slow-down in 2011. I have posted only 5 songs in the last year. Though the year began with an original composition, that too a new year song, it slowed down. I can only hope that 2012 would get better. My father passing away was one major personal incident happened in the last year. Finances sucked throughout the year and expenses went sky-high, but none of them were avoidable.

On the positive front, I realized that Blogswara can still generate interest from many quarters. When I announced Trunk Call, the new Blogswara album with a theme, we had received 19 song announcements (though only 4 of it could make it to the final versions). Now I am sure that the spirit of independent music and Blogswara will continue to grow. Also I learned to drive a car in the last year. My ‘vintage’ second hand Maruti 800 has helped me experience the pleasure of driving, though I hate driving in the city on a weekday.

One of the good things that happened last year was that I started writing features for Sound Box magazine, a unique music industry magazine that has bagged a silver (in the Best  New Publications category for 2010) at ABCI awards in it’s very first year. I have always enjoyed writing and one of those childhood dreams was to be a writer. And I’m happy and proud that I am now writing on my favorite topic, music, in country’s premiere music trade magazine. My first feature in the magazine was about music blogging, titled Net Gain published in March 2011, an area that I had been actively promoting online and offline ever since I enjoyed the perks of music blogging right from 2005.

I also had an opportunity to host a radio show last year. Hosting the one-hour show “Hridayapoorvam” in All India Radio, Thrissur station was an exciting experience. I recorded in the same studio where I had recorded the first song I wrote and composed (and that was long back) and the memories poured in. Also had a good experience with a short film I made on a mobile phone. 🙂

What I learned in 2011…

…was more of what I learned in 2010 – about how to treat people with what they deserve. I was hesitant though I told myself that I would be nice only to those who are nice to me. This year, I believe I have learned more about dealing with people who take advantage of my weakness (of being nice) and give them back in the same coin. People among family and friends. And on the family front, Ryan is lighting up our days. It’s so wonderful to see him grow.

So that sums up an year and I am hoping for the best in 2012. Here are some blog posts I enjoyed writing and think that you would enjoy reading too.

Music posts

Happy New Year and a song!
Pavizham Pol
Nilaa Nilaa Mizhiye
Baliyaay Thirumunpil
Mazha Njaan Arinjirunnilla

Blog posts

Liu Xiaobo – A saint or a hypocrite?
To all the girls I loved before…
Save the space, please
Bringing back original instruments to music
The Drop-out Syndrome
A note to M Jayachandran, the music director
Hazare, the Hero
Anna Hazare and the Great Indian Middle-class
Redefining entertainment digitally
I don’t bleed blue; I never will
Enabling mobile technology for music
Thrissur Pooram 2011
Life, on a journey
The useless ‘royal, divine wealth’
Kerala’s YouTube Stars!
About friends and friendship
A young man’s tale
Group Activity
Da Vincing Code
The state of music retailers
Jagathy vs. Ranjini – What’s missing in the debate
Jan Lok Pal – the interim FAQ
The Steve Jobs effect
Yesudas – fifty years on
Santhosh Pandit vs. Malayalam Media/Cinema
My dear Appu

Malayalam film songs of 2011 – My picks

2011 may not have been an exciting year for Malayalam box office, but it certainly was a turning point in the history of Malayalam film music industry. The industry had opened up to the rock music genre last year and a new trend of movie inspired OSTs had been introduced. As a result, we had a song from India’s leading  and Kochi’s own rock band Motherjane for the film Anwar in 2010. The trend continued this year with the Malayalam rock band Avial played the end title song, Aanakkallan, for the film Salt N Pepper. It seems to be continuing as the audio of the end title song from the upcoming film Asuravithu, sung by the new rock sensation, X-Factor fame Piyush Kapur, is out on YouTube.

It shows that the new age film directors who target the young audience are ready to go beyond the regular track to try out something new. And the stage is set right. There has been no better time than now for the independent music scene in India and the youth in Kerala are also reaching out to different genres of music.

2011 was also the year of Shreya Ghoshal in Malayalam film music. She has probably sung more songs than Chitra in Malayalam this year. Unlike other singers from the north and south of India, she has given much effort in terms of pronunciation and that is evident from her renditions. But are the music directors trying to use her pan-Indian image for the publicity of their albums is a question. If that is the case, some of the equally talented young singers from Kerala – Gayatri, Manjari and Swetha – are missing out in the competition.

So here comes my list of top 12 Malayalam songs of 2011. You can view/hear the songs on YouTube, if you click on the song names.


Song: Naattu vazhiyorathe
Movie: Gaddhama
Singer: K S Chitra
Music: Bennet-Veetrag
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Chimmi Chimmi
Movie: Urumi
Singer: Manjari
Music: Deepak Dev
Lyrics: Kaithapram

Song: Chembarathi Kammalittu
Movie: Manikyakallu
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal, Ravishankar
Music: M Jayachandran
Lyrics: Anil Panchooran

Song: Ithile Varoo
Movie: The Train
Singer: Sujatha
Music: Srinivas
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Kannoram Chingaaram
Movie: Rathinirvedham
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal
Music: M Jayachandran
Lyrics: Murugan Kattakkada

Song: Himakanam
Movie: Violin
Singer: Gayatri, Ganesh Sundaram
Music: Bijibal
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Chembaavul
Movie: Salt N Pepper
Singer: Pushpavathy
Music: Bijibal
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Premikkumpol
Movie: Salt N Pepper
Singer: P Jayachandran, Neha Nair
Music: Bijibal
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Pranaya Nilaa
Movie: Teja Bhai and Family
Singer: Shaan Rahman
Music: Deepak Dev
Lyrics: Kaithapram

Song: Manjil Melle
Movie: Makaramanju
Singer: Yesudas
Music: Ramesh Narayanan
Lyrics: Chandran Nair

Song: Amruthamaay
Movie: Snehaveedu
Singer: Hariharan
Music: Ilaiyaraja
Lyrics: Rafeeque Ahammed

Song: Mazhaneer Thullikal
Movie: Beautiful
Singer: Unni Menon
Music: Ratheesh Vega
Lyrics: Anoop Menon


Honorable mentions:

To Reshmi Satheesh for the songs Appa Nammade and Chalanam Chalanam from the movie Urumi. The highlight of both these songs is Reshmi’s powerful voice.

To Rex Vijayan for the background score of Chaappa Kurish. Rex has given a totally different approach compared to the traditional way our musicians have been scoring music for films.


Related posts:

Malayalam songs of 2009 – My picks
Malayalam songs of 2008 – My picks


A homemade short film

I usually try and find some time to spend with my nieces and nephews when they come home. So one day they were at my place and wanted to check out my phone. I asked them if they would be interested in making a ‘movie’. They were excited and I made them say some nonsense dialogues and captured it on the video. When I showed it to them, their excitement knew no bounds. So they wanted to do another ‘movie’. But I wanted to catch up with my sisters and have a chat with them downstairs. So just to get rid of the kids, I told them to come up with a story of their own, write down the dialogues and then I would shoot the movie. I gave them an hour, so that I could be free for some time. But I never thought that they would take it up seriously and return with a written storyline and dialogues in just FIFTEEN MINUTES! 🙂

I was totally surprised and impressed when I looked at the story line. They had a title, dialogues, an interesting ‘horror’ story and even a twist at the end. All these from two kids (Kevin and Anthony) who are just about 10 years old (I have not changed a thing in their story and dialogues). So I called up the other nieces and nephews, asked them to do something or the other. So Divya took care of the make-up, my wifey Sony helped with costumes, Neenu and Minna were hesitant but then  agreed to play the roles of the vampire and mom respectively. So within 20 minutes, the shoot was complete. Even though this was meant to be some fun work for the kids, I was equally excited as them because this is my first experiment in making a short movie (if you call this a short movie). I had some fun time with post-production experiments too. 🙂 I just finished editing the movie and just uploaded on YouTube. The original cast & crew are yet to see the final product; I intend to show it to them in the coming weekend.

So here comes “The vampire and a family”. The kids would appreciate your comments and I intend to show it to them. 🙂


Story, Screenplay: Kevin, Anthony
Make-up: Divya
Costumes and dubbing assistance: Sony
Starring: Kevin, Anthony, Minna (the mom) and Neenu (the vampire)
Cinematography, editing, sound & visual effects, direction: Their uncle pandit 😉

Camera: Nokia E7
Softwares: Windows Live Movie Maker (video), Audacity (audio)

Santhosh Pandit vs. Malayalam Media/Cinema

So much has been said and being said about Santhosh Pandit, an amateur movie director, actor, producer… (and so on). But nothing has been so abusive as the television show “Niyanthrana Rekha” on Manorama News yesterday. The program started with anchor Shaani saying that Santhosh Pandit’s movie has nothing to it’s credit and from there began the ‘show’ orchestrated by Shaani and Manorama News. Either Shaani has not cared to see the impact that Santhosh Pandit has made (negative or positive) in the Malayali society or she has chosen to ignore it completely. Whichever is the case, she has set a bad example for an anchor of such a show.

Santhosh Pandit definitely has something to his credit. His movie shows that the viral and social media marketing could help a lot in bringing people to theaters, provided it has something to hype about. The hype here was in a negative manner, but Santhosh has used it to the core to make money out of it. People wanted to see and cheer a clown and Santhosh Pandit happily let himself to be one. It is a fair trade and I think Santhosh is the ultimate winner at the end of the day. He’s got everything that an amateur artist could ask for – his video has lakhs of hits on YouTube, for which he claims that he gets Rs. 4/hit, he has appeared on all major Malayalam television channels, his movie is now showing in 14 theaters in Kerala though it was started with 3. The man is making money and he is (in)famous. Shaani of Manorama News chose not to see it.

But it did not stop there. The stage set by Shaani yesterday was taken over by someone called Adv. Baburaj who in all his 18 years of existence in Malayalam cinema was barely noticed until, ironically, he made himself to be a clown of a character in the hit movie Salt N Pepper. He made personally abusive remarks against Santhosh Pandit. He went on to ask if Santhosh Pandit has a mental disorder and made fun of Santhosh’s outfit. All this while the anchor, who is supposed to the ‘moderator’ of the show (someone please explain to her what responsibilities comes with a moderator title) stood silent (and probably smiling). Not an attempt to stop Baburaj or to remind him that personally abusive remarks on public television could not be allowed, particularly when Pandit has not hurled out any abuse against Baburaj.

What Baburaj has churned out with his 18 long years of experience in the Malayalam movie industry are the movies like ‘Black Dalia‘ and ‘Manushyamrugam‘. Both of them were box office disasters and won no critical acclaim and that man sat there rubbishing Santhosh Pandit who is a first time amateur in the industry.

I haven’t watched Santhosh Pandit’s movie “Krishnanum Radhayum” and I have no plans to watch it in the theatres. Just because I can tell from the trailers and clips of the movie I have seen on YouTube that it will be crap (just as I don’t watch Baburaj’s movies either in the theater or on television). Plus, I have no interest to go to a theatre to hurl abuse at someone who has not done any harm to me, knowing exactly what I would get out of it (most of the audience – particularly the young crowd – knew what they would get from the movie and paid to see it on screen). I do look for his latest interviews though, because I am curious to see if this man is consciously making a fool of himself or not. His rationale in many of the interviews are unmatchable and the current Malayalam cinema industry will have no option than being silent before the questions he pause in those interviews.

I think Santhosh Pandit has talent. If not in acting or direction, he would match the current industry standards with his music compositions and dialogues. I like the song “Raathri Subharaathri” or “Vachasaalum Vapusaalum“. I think if any of the ‘surviving’ superstars delivered the punch dialogues that Santhosh has delivered in his movie, they would be an instant hit among their fans. So these two areas are what Santhosh could genuinely work on and contribute to the box office industry.

And for Shaani and her types, I wonder if they would treat Mammootty or Mohan Lal the way they have treated Santhosh Pandit for their performances in the movies such as Vaamanapuram Bus Stop, Thuruppugulaan or such. I also wonder why did Manorama News bring a psychiatrist to the debate on a movie. Would they do the same thing to discuss a crappy movie of any of the leading stars in Malayalam?

Related: Kerala’s YouTube stars!

‘Chappa Kurish’ is an honest film

Chappa Kurishu posterChappa Kurish‘ is a strange name for a Malayalam movie. Everybody was wondering what the name meant when they first heard the movie title. Later we learned that it is the Fort Kochi slang for ‘Head or Tail’ and the movie held true to it’s title, portraying two different lives in contrast to each other. The movie is directed by cinematographer Sameer Thahir (his directorial debut) and he also shares the writing credits with Unni R.

The story is simple and contemporary and it has been woven in a credible manner. The protagonists of the movie, Arjun (Fahad Fazil) and Ansari (Vineeth Srinivasan), live in the same city but in two different worlds. Arjun, a successful young businessman and a playboy who is engaged to Ann (Roma) but also has a relationship with Sonia (Remya Nambeesan), his colleague. Ansari is a cleaning boy in one of the super markets in the city, who is always ridiculed by his boss and almost everyone else except Nafeeza (Niveda) – his love interest. The story gets interesting when Arjun loses his iPhone and Ansari gets hold of it. Arjun desperately wants to get his phone back because it contains the video clip of his private moments with Sonia and it can  jeopardize his upcoming wedding and Sonia’s life altogether.

Ansari doesn’t easily give the phone away and it is not because of the video clip (he is not aware of it) or he wants to sell it. It is simply because this phone is a powerful tool that he could ever get. He even tells his love interest once that, “when you have this phone, you don’t have to be afraid of anything in this world“. He enjoys it when Arjun pleads to him and address him as “Sir” because he never had respect from anyone else in this world. He loves it even more when he could use Arjun to slap his boss, or to pour black oil on the Volkswagen of a woman who accused him of misbehavior and got his boss to make him apologize to her (for something he never did).

Eventually, Ansari decides to give the phone back when Nafeeza insists. But things go out of hand when the mobile shop owner, who offers to help Ansari to charge the phone battery, extracts the clip off the phone and upload it to YouTube under the title “Mallu Boy and Girl New“. The video goes viral thereafter and Arjun goes to find Ansari on his own.

Almost everything in this movie is told honestly. The plot, the characters, how they respond to each other and situations of the story are all so honest and natural. It is this honesty that I liked about this movie. Fahad as Arjun and Vineeth as Ansari have given wonderful performances. With their body language and acting, they have made their characters credible. I never liked Vineeth Srinivasan in any of his movies until now (Fahad also was disastrous in his first movie), but Ansari is one character that fits him like a T and he has done full justice to his role. Fahad is to be noted for his top-notch, matured performance.

There are a few firsts about this movie when it comes to Malayalam cinema. Except for one song sequence, the entire movie was shot on Canon 7D, a still camera (apparently, the Hindi movie “Stanley Ka Dabba” and parts of Hollywood movie “Black Swan” were also shot with Canon 7D). The traditional ‘blossoming-flower syndrome‘ for love-making scenes has moved way to a two minute smooch between Sonia and Fahad. Remya Nambeesan has to be applauded for having the guts to do it in a Malayalam movie. The climax action sequences were realistic, something that you also would do in real life, if put yourself in a similar situation. We would think that it is going the ordinary way when the movie clip goes online and we see Sonia going to the toilet with a blade. But we spot her in an airport later and she is also joined by Arjun soon. Jomon T John on camera and Rex Vijayan (Avial fame) with music also have done commendable work. But I wish Rex’s background score was a bit more tight at scenes like Arjun chasing Ansari.

If there is anything that I would complain about this movie, it is the scripting and editing and those are not small things to pass on. Had there been a tight script and an editor who knew his job, this movie would have easily become the best Malayalam cinema in the recent years. But in many scenes the movie loses it’s pace when it should have kept it’s viewers gripped to their seats.

My rating:

(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

Salt N’ Pepper – What really is cooking?

Salt N Pepper poster

From the movie reviews that I read in several websites and FB status messages, it seemed to me that “Salt N Pepper” was a refreshing, path-breaking, unconventional movie that is part of a ‘movement in Malayalam cinema’ (courtesy: Prithviraj) lead by some young people in the industry.

But the hiccup starts right from the beginning, when Kaalidasan abducts Mooppan from the wild. Kaalidasan wants the viewers to believe that he has plans to learn the unknown tribal recipes from the Mooppan, but throughout the movie, Mooppan is just an antique decoration in Kaalidasan’s house. He says nothing, does nothing except staring and smiling at times. We don’t know why that character is even there if not to bring in the ‘human right activists joke’ into picture. Oh yeah, we need to talk about that joke.

Off late, Human rights activism has been made a subject of ridiculeness in some Malayalam movies. It was started off with Major Ravi and his war movies and the nationalist fervor of people has cheered them all the way. Aashiq Abu does the same kind of ridiculing, with that loud ex-police character so it is easy for the viewers to hate the human rights activists. As a result, Kaalidasan, who pulled a tribal man off his environment and does nothing for him and rather Kaalidasan’s intention is to make use of Moopan to please his taste buds, is portrayed as the good man and the hero. The human rights activists who try to save the old man are portrayed evil.

Then comes Maya, the rebellious dubbing artiste who knows how to handle the guys in the studio or the big shot film industry people, who in a boozing session with her flat mates says that “being a woman, I fell for his trap” referring to her failed romantic relationship. The director who was bold enough to let the heroine hold a bottle of beer still couldn’t do without the ‘traditional wisdom’ that women are, by nature, fragile. Typecast never ends as the male assistant in the beauty salon acts like a woman. Again the traditional wisdom that men working in the beauty/glamor industry must be lady-boyish.

The film’s highlight is it’s light-hearted comedy but some bits of it is not so light-hearted. For example, look at the scene where Maya asks for ‘garlic chutney’ (to go with the Thattil Kutty Dosa) and Kaalidasan reacts by looking at his private parts. The hint is clear and Aashiq Abu certainly knows how to please his male audience. We should also note that this is the kind of ‘comedy’ that is seen in Malayalam cinema/TV/live shows these days.

So much so to the ‘path-breaking, un-conventional’ movie. But the film is not without it’s positives. The way that Kaalidasan bonds with Maya through their common love for food has been portrayed nicely. Their conversations on food, their own different reasons to love food – Kaalidasan a born foodie and Maya cooks to connect with her mother’s memories – have also been shown nicely. The most yummy and well taken scene in the movie is when Kaalidasan tells Maya the recipe of Joan’s Rainbow Cake and both make and relish it. The old Premier Padmini is also a part of the movie that does it’s role well while abruptly playing the music through it’s dysfunctional radio.

There is nothing much to be said about Lal and Shweta Menon (who have portrayed Kaalidasan and Maaya respectively) as we already know how talented these two actors are. Surprise of course comes from Baburaj, who usually does villainous characters, doing a comic role here. The scene that Lal asks Baburaj to go with him was hilarious.

When the movie ends, you would be wondering why the much-awaited meeting of Maya and Kaalidasan was scheduled at a museum and not in a food joint. But that is quite obvious as the food factor is forgotten right after the first half of the movie and from then onwards it’s an excessive bit of salt and pepper you taste here and there.

Redefining entertainment digitally

[This is my fourth article for My Smart Life, an initiative by Nokia India that features guest authors from various walks of life who have made use of technology and social media in their work and life. Go to the website to check out rest of the articles there.]

Why would you go to a video sharing website only to hear music? I mean, you have so many music streaming websites and the quality of the audio is pretty much good there but still I see so many people accessing YouTube to hear music. Perhaps it is because over a period of time, YouTube has become the complete online entertainment channel of the world. You need to hear music? Go to YouTube. Need to watch comedy? A television show that you missed last night? A movie snippet that you would want to keep watching again and again? A live show recording? There, you have it all on YouTube.

It is quite interesting to take a look at how the traditional entertainment forms have made way to the new generation digital entertainment media. There was a time when a television set was a rarity. If there was one family that had a TV set, all other people in the neighborhood would go there to watch Ramayan, Mahabharath or Chitrahar. I’m sure many of us have such memories from those good old days. It was a good social experience back then. Many people in the neighborhood came and spent time together, discussed the news as they appeared on TV, or talked about music or movies while they watched it together. But the personal space and privacy were seriously lacking. With the increased purchasing power, people started buying their own music system and television sets. This paved way to have entertainment at the privacy of home space. But the revolution in the entertainment media did not just stop there.

The arrival of digital entertainment media has completely redefined the word entertainment. It took out the time and space restrictions of entertainment and put it on-the-go. So if you are bored when you are boarded on train, you could just switch on your iPod or Zune and hear music or watch a movie. With the newest mobile phones like Nokia E7, you wouldn’t even need to have a separate device and can do it all on your mobile phone. Just imagine how the features of a smart phone with a 3G connection could change your access to entertainment. You wouldn’t even need to store music or a favorite show episode on your device because you would rather connect to Internet from your mobile phone using your 3G connection and would have effortless online streaming of entertainment.

Digital entertainment mediums have not only changed the way people watched videos, but it has also helped creative people to come up with fresh new ideas, present it before people and become online celebrities eventually. One good example here would be Rocketboom. Rocketboom is a video blog with daily news snippets with a touch of humor. It was started out in 2004 and now reportedly has 400,000 video episode downloads a day. With just three people, a small room, a video camera and an unconventional, creative approach, see how far they have gotten.

Well, this is not just about pre-recorded content. Now there are several websites like Livestream, UStream etc that offer live video streaming. YouTube last year had launched their alpha version of live streaming with Rocketboom with live comment option. So now you don’t have to scream “Hey, run and switch on that TV fast! I will miss that breaking news” because you could just go to YouTube on your mobile phone and watch live news.

Just imagine what this whole thing could mean in the future. You will see many citizen powered media channels, giving you fresh and original content with an unconventional touch. This will eventually force the established media houses to seriously think about revamping the way they present news and entertainment. Set top boxes and DTH could be a thing of the past since Internet TVs are already out in the market and the pre-recorded material could be broadcast through channels like YouTube. TV channels could directly charge the customers for a particular show, an episode, per day or per month basis. Movie channels could be a thing of past too, when the studios would directly make the films available online and can charge the users. They could even generate revenue by making half portion of the movie streaming for free and then charge the viewers to watch the rest. This would put the deciding power to the people and could even put a stop to illegal online video streaming.

The result is more power to the people. More fair business. And a better world.

A note to M Jayachandran, the music director

Dear M Jayachandran

I like your music because your songs are melodious. I have done some cover versions of your songs in my music blog because I loved them so much. And then I happened to read an interview of yours in Manorama newspaper and I have a problem with some of the things you have said there against singers. You, in an effort to paint yourself white has gone overboard with your comments on the singers. You were asked “why do you hate singers so much?” and there is something in your answer that I want to talk about here.

You said: “Singers see us as a ladder to fame. When the song becomes a hit they forget the ladder. Then they behave as they wish.”

I don’t get this. Of course, everybody in the industry is using everybody else for work. There are so many music directors out there who use singers to sing for them free of cost. These music directors don’t pay a single penny to the singers. Instead, they promise a hit. Obviously the singers would have the same attitude to music directors as well. And what exactly is your concern? The singers to whom you give songs don’t behave like slaves? That they need to treat you as if you are some colonial landlord or something? Times have changed, MJ.

You said: “I pay even the new singers. But they should be convinced that their performance was worthy of getting paid.”

First of all, it is not your generosity that you pay the new singers. I mean, what the heck! You choose a singer only after the audition rounds and when you are fully convinced that the singer can deliver what you want. And when you get the singer to sing your song, you are supposed to pay him/her the money that he/she earned with their time and effort. Your words, that you pay “even” the new singers, come from a cheap industry standard where you guys – music directors – do not pay the new singers for their efforts so that you can keep all the money that the producers give you. You do that in the name of giving them “a chance”. Shame on you!

You said: “Those who sing well in ganamelas (music troupes) would be like a cat in the water when it comes to recording in a studio. Because even the small mistakes would be audible in a recording studio”.

Singing well on a live stage show is not an easy thing. To dance when you sing is even harder. Singing in a studio and singing live are two different things. One has to learn the techniques of recording in a studio and it needs good preparation if they are inexperienced in studio singing. In fact, I don’t see any problem for a live singer to adapt to the studio recording techniques after a few tries. On the other hand, have you ever heard those “perfect” studio artists struggling to sing when they do live stage shows? Have you noticed how many of them do the lip-sync business on stage?

You said: “After the recording, we have to spend two days to correct their pitch. We have softwares available to do that. The great songs sung by Yesudas or Sujatha were not pitch-corrected this way.”

Do you believe all Yesudas songs were recorded in one take? I heard that in the early days, when there was no punch-in recording or multi-track recording, the whole team including the singer and orchestra had to repeatedly perform the entire song if there was a single mistake. The time and energy wasted on this was humongous, let alone the money that a producer has to pay for the studio time. With the advanced technology you can record the orchestra and singers separately, that too at the convenience of the music director and artists. This saves you time, helps you schedule your recording sessions better and to spend little time on correcting a specified line or word. So what is wrong in using the advantage of technology? Of course, I understand that the option to correct the pitch has made singers lazy and the singers have to work on their part to deliver their work perfectly, but your words seem just an excuse to not pay the singers.

You also mentioned that there are singers who offer to sing without getting paid. Likewise, I have heard of music directors approaching new movie directors with the offer to compose music for free. Ahem… Also I have heard of a music director often being described as the beacon of caste-politics in the Malayalam film music industry (the so called Nair spirit is what I am referring to). Any words on that? 😉

So here is what I really want to say. Clean your yard first and then talk.

Thank you.

Wilson Pereira

Wilson Pereira is a short film by Dhaneesh Jameson and it has vocal narrations of Mohan Lal (Malayalam), Nasirudeen Shah (Hindi) and Tom Alter (English). The film tells the story of Wilson Pereira, a cemetry keeper. The story that unfolds take you for a mystery ride. Beautiful animation, music and voice overs by some very talented actors. Check it out.

Wilson Periera (Malayalam) from Dhaneesh Jameson on Vimeo.