Malayali House – more ‘reality’ in the house!

Malayali House

It is a ‘reality show’ everywhere. In sports, music, on stage, television and many a times in life too. People initially had thought that many of these shows would be for real but later some of them have realized that it could be all cooked-up. But that did not turn them away from watching the made-up reality of the reality shows.

Many of my friends who were mad about cricket had told me that they lost interest in watching the game when the match-fixing controversy erupted. But they kept on watching and enjoying the game even though they were unsure that they could be watching a pre-fixed game. Look at the reality music shows scene in television. The drama that was inherent in these shows have made people doubt the reality element in it, but they still loved it for the entertainment it provided. Even many of the music stage shows are just a ‘show’. Lip-syncing is a common practice and even the popular singers do it and that too after being caught by audience on several stages.

So basically people love reality shows. Although, they often ridicule it, blame it or anything. They love the entertainment and the gossip material that these shows give them (particularly the television reality shows). And they celebrate it – those who know and don’t know if it is cooked-up. But it wouldn’t be exciting to them if you told them beforehand that it was made-up. Then the gossip element, the talk that could be built around the show would be missing. That would make a serious effect on the entertainment element of the show and the TRP. The television channels know it, so they keep boasting on how ‘real’ their show is and we happily accept it.

But you can’t stretch these shows beyond it’s limits. People would get bored after some time. That is why new ways of reality television have been invented. So when people of Keralam got bored of music reality shows, television channels brought out comedy reality shows. When the audience got bored of that, they now bring the regional copy of Big Brother or Big Boss. And thus was born “Malayali House”, a reality show in Surya TV.

This is probably Surya TV’s best attempt to claim the first place off Asianet in Malayalam television scene and they have brought in all the right people to do it. The line-up of participants include some people who were fading out in the public and some who are publicity-hungry. It is a mixture of people who could not make it big consistently and others who want to make it big and some who just want to keep being in the limelight. The controversies, debates and discussions have already begun in the social media about the show which should make Surya TV and the participants happy. The audience should be happy too, as they are already fed up with the reality music/comedy shows in Malayalam television channel and needs some more drama from a ‘reality’ show. And now the show is adding up more spice to the episodes.

It is wholesome entertainment. And to think of it as an opportunity to watch the everyday life of some people adds more spice to it. And Surya TV markets it promptly that way with their tagline – “your license to ogle”. Long live reality television!

Nilaa Nilaa Mizhiye (from Tournament)

It’s been a long long time since I have sung or recorded anything. The little one is taking most of my time, not that I am complaining. With him, life is so much different but in a very positive way that I forget the sleep interruptions, waking up early, spending time with him and all that. I just love being with him. 🙂 He is the most precious thing ever in my life. But last weekend, I took sometime off baby sitting with wifey’s permission and recorded this song. The thing is, I have not been singing much these days and music blogging is an excuse to get back to singing. To sing properly after a few months was really tiring but I enjoyed every moment of it.

Here is yet another gem from Deepak Dev. Let me know what you think and thanks for listening. 🙂

Happy New Year and a song!

First of all, Happy New Year everyone! May this year bring lots of happiness, peace and prosperity in your lives. May this new year also teach you to be your betterselves. What better way to spend a new year eve than composing and singing a new song! Nisikanth (from Eenam) sent me his beautiful lyrics for a new year song. The song is meant to be the first song for the new effort called “Naadham”. I composed the song instantly because I loved the lyrics so much because it had the flavour of New Year and friendship of the virtual world. I sang a rough draft and sent it to Krishna Raj (who has composed and orchestrated a song for Blogswara V6). This is the first time I talked to Krishna and we got the tempo going. Krishna created an amazing orchestration for my composition, almost instantly. I am awestruck by the talent of this guy, Krishna. When I got the minus track to record the song again, I was taken to another plane because of Krishna’s magical touch.

So here comes a song that was born in just 2 days, through emails. My first song in 2011. Do hear and let us know what you think.

Song: Swaramunarum Manassukalil
Lyrics: Nisikanth
Orchestration: Krishna Raj
Composed and sung by: Joseph Thomas (Jo)

Download “Swaramunarum Manassukalil” (7.69 MB)


സ്വരമുണരും മനസ്സുകളിൽ
ഇതൾ വിരിയും നാദലയം
ഏതൊരാജന്മ ബന്ധമായ്
പൂത്തുനില്ക്കുമീ സൗഹൃദം
ഏതപൂർവ്വ സൌഭാഗ്യമായ്
ഈ വേദിയിൽ കൂട്ടായ്‌വരും
ഈണങ്ങളായി നേരാം

കോടിവർണ്ണങ്ങൾ കൺകൾ തൻ
മുന്നിൽനീർത്ത കണ്ണാടിയിൽ
തേടുന്നൊരീ നവ വേദിയിൽ, പ്രിയ
മോടിന്നു നാം കൂട്ടായിടാം

കാണുമെന്നെങ്കിലും യുഗം
കണ്ണടഞ്ഞുപോകാതെ നാം
ഈ യാത്രയിൽ, ഈ വേളയിൽ, നാ-

“Harisree” from Mashithantu

The good folks at have come up with a new initiative after their successful ventures of online Malayalam-English dictionary and Malayalam crosswords. The new project is called “Harisree” and their tag-line is “ente bhaasha, adutha thalamurayilekku” (meaning, “My language, to the next generation”). The website teaches you how to write Malayalam. You can just pick up a letter in Malayalam and see how it is written, with the direction points. And when you have chosen a letter, it will show up words that starts with the letter with pictures to demonstrate/represent what the word actually means. If you click on the “Pronounce” button, you can also hear how each letter and the related words are pronounced. And then there is a drawing pad using which you can try writing the letter or word.

I think this is a very useful software especially when you teach children of the now or next generation. And it has some very cool features like I explained above. My congratulations to Joju John and his friends who have worked behind this software. Great job folks! Looking forward to what you have next in line. 🙂

Click here to visit Harisree.


Director Lal Jose has never disappointed the Malayalam movie lovers ever since his debut. Except for twice – with films like “Pattaalam” and “Mulla” – his movies are widely accepted by the Malayalee audience. His movies are mostly set to the backdrop of a typical Kerala village and both the story and camera capture the essence and beauty of the place. The song sequence in Lal Jose movies are a visual treat and he doesn’t go out to Singapore or Switzerland to shoot for a song, yet captures the breath-taking beauty of the ordinary places/villages. His latest (though I am yet to watch it) is one of the 10 short films in the movie “Kerala Cafe” which is already a hit with Mammootty and Srinivasan doing the lead roles.

“Neelathaamara” is one of the year’s much awaited Malayalam film. Lal Jose teams up with writer M T Vasudevan Nair to do a remake of an old Malayalam film. And Malayalees have huge expectation over the film as two magicians (MT and Lal Jose) join hands for this film. The movie is taken in a very low budget. I just saw/heard one song and it has such stunning visuals. I don’t have much to praise the song though. The tune somewhat reminds us of the old popular Malayalam hit songs composed by Vidyasagar himself (what is it with music directors these days recycling the old wine?). The song reminds me too much of Vidyasagar’s early (Lal Jose film) hit “Karimizhi kuruviye kandilla”. And though it is my sweetheart Shreya Ghoshal [;-)] singing the song, the pronunciation at places were bumpy in the song. “nirayum” for “niRayum” for example. Shreya is usually so keen on the pronunciation part and has sung even much more difficult Malayalam song lines with ease (“Vida Parayukayaano” and “Chaanthu Thottille” for example), so I would blame it on the people who were in the studio for this mistake. Another bumpy thing was the over stress at “ka” in the word “akale” by the male singer. But generally it is a good melodious tune, but nothing new.

So here is “Anuraaga Vilochananaayi” mostly for the visual treat it offers. And do check out Lal Jose’s blog.

55th National Film Awards

The 55th National Film Awards of 2007 have been announced and so many talented people have been recognized. First of all, I am glad that Prakash Raj won the Best Actor award. He has amazed me with his performance in Mani Ratnam’s “Iruvar“. His dialogue deliveries in Tamil made a non-Tamilian like me to appreciate the beauty of Tamil language (though I did not understand much of it). His performance as a villain in the movie “Aasai” was also wonderful. I haven’t seen the movie “Kanchivaram“, but I’m sure he must have done a wonderful job there too.

I have no words to say about Ouseppachan‘s achievement in this year’s national film awards. He has won the Best Music Director award for the songs of “Ore Kadal“. Like a Twitter friend mentioned, this award was long due. He has given us some musical gems right from the beginning of his career. I can forever listen to the songs like “Kaathodu Kaathoram“, or “Nee En Sarga Soundaryame” or “Unnikale Oru Katha Parayaam“. In the movie “Ore Kadal“, he chose to compose all 5 songs in one Raagam, that is Shubha Panthuvaraali. Even though all songs are based on the same raaga, each song stood out with its own features.

Do I even need to mention the maestro Adoor Gopalakrishnan? Though I am unsure of how well the other competitors have done with their movies, I have seen “Naalu Pennungal” and loved all the four segments of the movie which featured 4 women characters, each so powerful on their own right.

Pattanam Rasheed, whose name is so familiar to any one who watches the Malayalam movies, has rightly been awarded for the make-up of Paradesi. Shankar Mahadevan has bagged the Best Male Playback Singer award for his soul stirring rendition of Maa from Taare Zameen Par and Shreya Ghoshal has won the Best Female Playback Singer award.

To conclude, there are no controversy over the awards so far and that’s something we haven’t seen in the recent years.

Ritu – Movie review

Movie name: Ritu (Seasons)
Director: Shyamaprasad
Story & script: Joshua Newton
Music: Rahul Raj

It has been some time since I have watched a movie in theaters. Watching a movie in theaters has its own advantages and disadvantages. If the crowd around or with you is annoying enough, you lose the mood to enjoy the experience that only a cinema hall can provide. So, I usually skip most of the movies until it comes on CD. But Shyamaprasad is a favorite director of mine. There are only a few films which I go to watch by the director’s name and Shyam is one of them. I have been religiously following his films ever since his Door Darshan tele-serial days. So I decided to go to watch his latest film, Ritu, and I didn’t even call my friends to come along to avoid any kind of distraction and immerse myself fully into the movie.

Ritu tells the story of three friends and what the time has done to their relationships. The backdrop is of IT sector. Ritu is Shyam’s first work with an original story and screenplay (by Joshua Newton) and it is a youth oriented movie. So obviously the expectations were sky high. But when the movie ended, I was left with no emotion except the deep disappointment that I had. Regardless of the talented new faces, Ritu fails to strike an emotional chord.

Look at the scene where Sarath (Nishant) sees his father’s death in the hospital. There is a good scope of making you feel the intensity of the scene or the stillness of that moment. But you look at it with the same blank mind that you had from the beginning of the movie. You would want to force yourself to feel something about the scene, but with no luck. See the whole composition of the scene, the ridiculously looking doctor (who gives a good laugh to the audience by his ‘acting style’ right from his first appearance), and I couldn’t really believe that I was watching a Shyamaprasad movie.

Flashbacks seem to be a favorite technique in Shyamaprasad’s movies. It has worked very well in his movies and telefilms too. Take “Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal” or “Akale” for example. But the flashbacks actually flashes at you in every single minute of this movie in the first half. Sarath drives – flash back, he keeps on driving – flash back, he halts – flash back, he looks sideways – flash back. Flash back, flash back… it flashes on your face repeatedly! I would say a good technique is to choose a few flashback scenes and fit it in appropriate parts, rather than flashing it all on our faces one after another.

Another thing is that Ritu focuses on multiple stories but not in a “Crash” or “21 Grams” or “Babel” way. Those movies, even though they tell stories of different lives, it all connects to one single thread beautifully. But Ritu wants to touch everything that the IT world (or shouldn’t I say competitive corporate world?) has made an impact on. The cleaner guy’s story is a good example. We get to know from his first appearance that he is a displaced citizen because of the internet city. We see his plight when we see the way his boss treats him. Or the scene in the elevator where he looks alienated among an executive crowd. Those were good enough, but wait! They had to make him talk about his plight by himself to make us “feel”. But what felt through the “scenes” were not felt by the “dialogues”.

The climax was the most disappointing. I thought the movie would end after the conversation of Sarath and Varsha in the car park. Sarath talks about people changing like seasons, and he doesn’t want to see Varsha or Sunny ever again. The movie could have ended there, but no, they want us to know what would happen to Sunny in the matter of data theft, and what would happen to him and Varsha after 3 years, and then again a copy of Sarath’s book to convince us that he indeed wrote a book. Such a pathetic climax compared to Shyam’s previous movie Ore Kadal. Compare the climax of this movie with the climax of Ore Kadal. There, Nathan and Deepthi hugs each other and Deepthi’s kids walk up the stairs. We are not told whether Nathan and Deepthi would live together or what would happen to Jayan. It was left to the audience. But look at the climax of Ritu. I would say just one thing – sometimes you don’t need to explain everything and better leave it to the audience so that they can take something back when they leave the movie hall.

The only saving grace of the movie is it’s actors – Rima Kallingal as Varsha is the most talented of them all. She handled her role perfectly well for a new comer. Nishant as Sarath Varma comes to second. Asif has also done a good job as Sunny. Manu Jose as Jithu was quite natural. He and director M G Sasi as Sarath’s brother Hari are two characters with some life. They were really wonderful even though they had short roles.

Music by Rahul Raj is good. My favorite pick from the album is the song “Pularumo“, sung by Gayathri. The male vocals seem to go out of pitch in the very beginning of the song; in the part where he sings “oru kanaleriyunnatho“. I don’t know how the music director did not notice it.

The background music was disappointing. It comes with some rock guitars at one time, which would make us think it is going to take the movie into another pace, but it ends within a couple of minutes. It pops up again when we do not expect it and then again ends as soon as it is heard. I think we have so much to learn from Hollywood on how to use background music to add value to the scenes.

Shyamaprasad is very good at adapted screenplays. I think he would do a good job with a Malayalam adaptation of One Night at Call Center with the actors of this movie. Nishant as Shyam, Asif as Vroom and Rima as Priyanka would have made a perfect fit (don’t you think some of the scenes like the car sex of Sarath-Varsha remind you of Shyam-Priyanka’s love making scene from the book ON@CC ?)!

To sum up, Ritu is a deeply disappointing movie. I admire the writing of Joshua Newton by reading his English blog from a long time, but I think he has so much to improve on script writing after this maiden attempt. I have heard one thing about script writing from a friend who is a movie buff, which he quoted from a book. If a movie’s striking point doesn’t come up in the first 20 or 30 minutes, it is not worthy of watching fully. I think it is so true about Ritu.

“Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary”

Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary

Book title: Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary
Shinie Antony
Rupa & Co.

When I received the copy of “Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary“, the first story I read was written by Vinod Joseph, my friend and author of the much-talked-about “Hitchhiker”. What I generally see in the writings about Kerala by the people of Malayali descend who stays outside Kerala, is that they are always critical of Kerala. But Vinod’s short stories never go judgmental but observant. Whether it’s the “Stories from Simhapara” or the one in this book, “A matter of faith“, you can see a slice of Kerala and honesty in his writings. His story in this book, “A Matter of Faith“, tells about the growing Charismatic phenomena among Kerala Christians and it’s a good read.

The book, edited by Shinie Antony, is an anthology. There are 26 pieces in this book which describes Kerala through the individuals’ point of view – through stories, essays, excerpts from books and interviews. A few of these individual view points lack to see Kerala in it’s truest spirit, probably because most of the authors are outside observers who come to Kerala for an annual visit to their ancestral houses.

Take D Vijayamohan’s essay for example. His whole piece turns out to be an anti-Communist tirade. Even though he rightly points out at the old and idiotic stands of Kerala Communists like the one against Computers, he see evil only in the Communists and squarely blames them for the State’s problems. He never mentions anything about the successive Congress governments who are equally responsible. And he also has not seen what Communism (not the present-day Communism) has contributed to the social thread of Kerala. But we are not to be surprised because he is Malayala Manorama’s Delhi bureau chief.

But there are other interesting articles. “The Strange Sisters of Mannarkkad” by William Dalrymple, for example. It talks about how Goddess Bhagavathy and Virgin Mary co-exist in the village of Mannarkkad and Christians and Hindus pray to each others’ Gods. A rarity of religious beliefs which can most probably be seen only in Kerala. The other interesting reads include Satchithandan’s piece on evolution of literature in Kerala, Rtd. DGP Hormis Tharakan’s memoir, a history of Anglo-Indian community in Kerala, a speech transcript of Shahi Tharoor on development etc.

Artist Yusuf Arakkal in his piece complains about the Malayali’s lack of ability to appreciate art. What he fails to understand is that, from an audience/appreciator part, the appetite for Art – especially modern art – generally comes along with money. In a crowded place like Kerala (or India for that matter), where people strive hard to feed off their families well than themselves, art comes secondary or the last thing in their lives. They don’t have time to study or appreciate art and it’s different forms. People in America or France can, perhaps. So it is obvious of artists to migrate to other countries or other cities of India where their art will be appreciated and bought off for some grand bucks. The majority of people in Kerala do not have that luxury so Yusuf will have to excuse. It is changing though, as the number of richest people increase (or rather, the rich becomes more richer) in the cities of India. So Yusuf can stay there and sell off copies of his paintings (which he probably means by “appreciating art”) for thousands or lakhs of rupees, but his complaint is not so valid back at home, given the constraints. And it is not a Malayali phenomena but an Indian phenomena generally.

Musician Rama Varma has a piece on music in Kerala that writes about Sopaana Sangetham, which is originated in Kerala to the present-day musical reality shows. There was nothing more than a sentence about Kerala’s folk music tradition though. He also explains Karnataka Sangeetham doesn’t mean “music from Karnataka” but “Karna-Ataka-Sangeetham” which means “Music pleasant to the ears”.

Another interesting piece is by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil who openly says, “I would also like to explode the myth – that Syrian Christians in Kerala were originally Brahmin converts. I doubt there were Brahmins in the first century in the Malabar Coast.” This comes as a blow to the caste-Christians (mostly Syrian Christians of Kerala) who proudly claims to have Brahminical ancestry.

Overall, this book is a good read for both Malayalis and non-Malayalis and I would say it is also a slice of India that this tiny state decorates in it’s southern end.

Paala Poovithalil – Thirakkatha (cover)

Here is a song from the Malayalam movie Thirakkatha. The album marks the come back of music director Sharath to the Malayalam cinema after a break. This is a duet song and I did it myself. 🙂

Movie: Thirakkatha
Music: Sharath
Original singers: Nishad, Swetha
Covered by: Joseph Thomas (Jo)

Download MP3 of “Paala poovithalil (cover)”