Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nadunisi Naigal - Movie Review

First of all, Gowtham Menon has to be appreciated for taking a new effort of movie making without BGM and just sound effetcs. How? By reading about the movie, its storyline, camera work etc, but never by watching it. After a very long time (I think in 2002 while watching Kadhalil Azhivadihllai), I felt that a one hour forty minute movie looked like a three hour movie.
I recomend everybody to not even thinking of watching this movie, not because it is boring but because it is irritating. The Apt title would have been "Verupethum Naigal" (Irrirating Dogs), that was what everyone associated on and off screen were doing. And because none of you are planning to watch the movie, I would give a small jist of the story line.

Samar is an eight year old kid whose mother is dead and whose father abuses him sexually. Their neighbour Meenakshi saves the kid and adopts him becoming his gaurdian. She names him Veera. He starts falling in love with her and one day his old memories gets back to him and he rapes her. She gets dejected and decides to marry an old friend of hers though forgiving Veera. After the marriage, Veera kills her husband and in that chaos, fire breaks out severely injuring Meenakshi, who is saved. Meenakshi is in hospital for eight months, gets discharged, gives a statement that her husband was the reason for all this, transfers all her wealth to Veera and they move to Chennai. Veera keeps killing women, Meenakshi insists him to do so and they collect their hair. Finally, it is reveiled that Meenakshi is actually dead and Veera becomes Samar sometimes and thinks Meenakshi is alive. He is sent to a hospital for treatment. Sameera is one of the girls in the whole story.

Negatives are very bad screenply, very painful story and to the core irritating sound. Even if a real life Veera watches this movie, he will get irritated. Positives are above average acting by everyone and camera work. Please do not watch this movie, wait for a week and it will be out of theatres. My irritation reached the limits when Menon tried to convery a message in the end.
Can this be comparable to the classic "Sivappu Rojakkal"? Never ever.

Verdict: "Meenakshi ammaa. Dhaivu seidhu theatre lendhu velila poidunga ammaa".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The night

The night was getting darker, just a gleam of light produced by ITO. Tempers were raising up and lowering down. One body, one heart, one sound and one silence. This wasn't a dream, am I sure?, but was it reality? I was not sure either. "What was my dinner last night?", I thought. A multi grain bread with paneer stuffing in Subway. But why was I eating in Subway in the first place. That is because I was in a mall. What mall? Why in a mall? "I am wasting time thinking of crap", I thought.

Why is it dark still? Is the night longer than 12 hours? Am I in Norway experiencing the polar night? I was not able to handle any more unanswerable questions. WAKE UP!!! I shouted to myself. This has to be a dream. Why should this be a dream? Aaargh, another question. I can not tolerate this anymore. Wait a second, Am I breathing?

I have to find the answer to this question. Yes I am breathing. Phew, what a relief. But, why am I breathing with my mouth and not nose? Please, this is torture, please never ever ask any more questions that have no answers. Think, think hard, real hard. This is the last question you may have to answer. Am I in water using oxygen cylinder and hence breathing through mouth. No. It is dark and me being inside water is irrelevant.

Let me go back to the mall. It seems to have some relevance. Before dinner, I am at Cream Stone, eating a 140 buck "Death By Chocolate" all by myself. Would any fool eat this all by himself? Why not? Ahchoo!!! The sneeze made me come back to my senses. It is 3 PM in the evening of a Monday. My laptop is nearby, screen saver running. My head is heavy, and I was relieved to realize this was all just the after effects of "Benadryl" and 2 dose of "Cold Acts". Would I ever catch up some sleep anymore today? I was again not sure. Your conscience is crazy, it creates magic. But how much of the magic someone can actually remember? Can you answer this?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Get together in "The Andamans" - Volume 3

Chapter 9 : "Adieu Havelock" and Sun Sea
Date : 28th Jan 2011
Day : 4
Sunrise is not a big friend of Radha Nagar beach as it is located in the west side of Havelock and the Sun has to come out of the woods containing very tall trees. So, we decided to give it a miss. Breakfast menu, that too complimentary one, all over Havelock is quite similar, but Barefoot's was definitely tastier. We took a set of group pics near the beach jumping in air and rest was taken care by Vijesh and Arun Raag. We checked out of the hotel at around 11 AM and booked a cab back to Havelock jetty. The return journey to Port Blair was quite boring and everybody slept. Arun Raag and Srihari were the only ones to check out the deck and the news was the sea was very rough and thus contributed to a lot of folks puking that day. For the record, none of us did.

We reached Port Blair at 4:30 PM and checked in Sun Sea Resort. I don't know why they gave this name as it was not a resort and the word "Sun Sea" had no relevance to the ambiance or location. But the hotel was in the heart of the city and very easily accessible. We decided to catch up the sound and light show in the cellular jail which was at 6:30 PM and luckily on just Fridays, the 6:30 PM show was in English to help everyone understand the show. The jail was around 3/4th of a km from the hotel and we took auto's to reach the place. Sound and light show was good, not excellent. Arun Raag was the highlight when he kept looking at me on the right and Santy on the left, every time they played a Hindi patriotic song. After 2-3 songs, he started guessing the timing of the song and said, "Paatu poda poraanga da, ayyo." Overall, I would say, the show was not bad. We walked back to the hotel room and had dinner on the way in a Pure Veg restaurant called Annapurna. Dosa's, Poori's and different varieties of idlis were served. Highlight was tomato soup, which tasted like 'sweet puliyankottai'(tamarind seed) and lemon fried idli which was supposed to be shared by two, but they advertised enormously to get rid of it by calling it tasty and asking others to taste.

Chapter 10 : Jolly Bouy and Kaalapaani

While having dinner, we had a voting session on which place to visit on the next day, Baratang or Jolly Buoy island. Baratang was around 135kms drive and required us to wake up by 4AM. Initial votes were very less for Baratang and then, after some convincing and under the table dealings, we had majority. Santy and Abi were very clear on their stance and they voted for Jolly Buoy. Luckily for them, Baratang tickets were sold out and we had to go to Jolly Bouy.

Day : 5
Date : 29th Jan 2010
We got ready by 7:30 and had buffet breakfast in Sun Sea; dosa, vada and toast. It was quite filling. Chinnaya, our cab driver was on time. He promised us that if we were back from Jolly Bouy boat before 3PM, he would drop us in Cellular Jail on time as the entry was restricted after 4PM. Jolly Bouy is around 30 kms from Port Blair and is a plastic free zone. We required permits and no one was allowed to stay back. We bought some bread and snacks for lunch since no food would be available there. We reached the entry point at 9AM and out boat started at 9:30AM. On the way, we played a very good game, which I would name as, "Kannu Adi Kandu Pudi", suggested by the Vijesh Abi couple. Again for rules, contact me offline. The game was hilarious and when we were done, we reached Jolly Buoy.

Jolly Buoy is famous for Snorkeling and corals. It is a INR 500 package that includes one snorkeling and one glass boat ride. The water was so clear that when a glass is the base for a boat, from the top we could see the sea life. Most of us went for snorkeling. The scuba certificate holder in Vijesh and Shruthi cautiously avoided it after trying out once or twice. I would rate the snorkeling experience from the perspective of how much marine life I saw as slightly better the the scuba one though the island is the one that makes the difference. We paid INR 200 extra for more snorkeling and me and Santy went twice for the paid one. When I returned, I heard a new tourist attraction had come up suddenly in the last 2 hours in Jolly Bouy. I came running to see what it was and what I saw there was that a Tamil guy was discussing the architecture of the castle built by our girls. It was good work by Shruthi and Aparna and while we were leaving back in the boat, we could see everyone taking snaps of it(no, not mana brandi, its true).

We were on time for the jail entry. The jail, called as kaala paani, was historic and the events were painful. A must see place, if you are in Port Blair. We hired two guides, one who speaks Hindi and the other, named Arun DK, who would translate the Hindi into Tamil. The guide morally cheated me by not giving any commission, but was forgiven. And for this act, the banyan tree saluted me. Why not, it has smelt the aroma of forgiveness for the first time in history inside the jail premises. I humbly bowed. We left the jail and split ourselves while walking back to the hotel.

After reaching the hotel, we decided to shop in a nearby gift store. Srihari, who was blossoming with the butterfly effect, desperately wanted to do shopping, not for him of course, and Abi and Shruthi helped him out. They spent around an hour in the shop without knowing the shopkeeper was a high BP patient. Srihari, with his bargaining skills made him reach the threshold and he started scolding everybody around. Me, Santy, Arun Raag and Gopal has gone to another shop and 3 of us got a tshirt which was very useful the next day photo shoot. When we came back, we watched the drama in the shop. It was very hilarious from a distance. Once the shop keeper cooled down and said one item cost INR 370, Srihari again asked, "350?". The shopkeeper lost his control again and when Vijesh asked if some item was unbreakable, he started throwing it away proving that it was indeed unbreakable. Somehow, they managed to pay the bill and come out of the shop. Dinner was good in Sun sea and we guys(only guys) spent some together after dinner.

Chapter 11 : A photo shoot called Ross
Day : 6
Date : 30th Jan 2011

We had our flight scheduled at 12:45 PM so all we could afford to do was start early and visit Ross island, the British headquarters in the Andamans. We finished breakfast, checked out from the rooms, kept the luggage in the reception and were off to Ross, just a km from the hotel in auto. After reaching there and purchasing the tickets, me and Shruthi had to go back to the hotel so see if, "where Shruthi thought her camera was" and "where it was truly" matched or not. God is great, it matched, and God is double great, the camera was not there in the store where we shopped yesterday. Ross island is a beautiful place, with ruins of the British colony. Ideal place for photo shoot and would we miss it. We took around 400 pictures if I am not wrong and every picture in that place has come up great. The place is famous for film shooting and the picture on the right side is the ruined church where "Kaaka Kaaka" movies "Uyirin Uyire" song was shot. Unfortunately we could not spend much time there and came back to catch the return ferry where Chinnaiya was waiting for us in a cab. We did not waste time, took the luggage and were off to airport.

Flight was on time. And we were exactly on time. On our return journey, we again had some very ok tasting dish(name was not worth remembering) in the flight. We were in Chennai at 2:45, collected the baggage at 3 and paid adieu to each other at 3:15. The trip is over; phew, what a trip, more than the place, the togetherness was what made it so special. Ran away fast, but not very fast too. Perfect number of days for a perfect holiday, one or two more would have been good too but not a second less.

I was sitting in the flight back to Hyderabad and remembered Srihari's email. As I said earlier, the email was worth millions, but the trip was priceless...

While I am penning down the last words of this post, I am watching a song from the movie "Samurai" in Sun Music, the movie for which we went together for the first time in July 2002. The journey has continued till now and I strongly hope it does continue forever.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get together in "The Andamans" - Volume 2

PS: This is lengthy as I want this to remain as something we could recollect when read after a while.

Chapter 6 : The Arrival
Day : 1
Date : 25th Jan 2011
It was around 10:45 AM and we were in mid air, most of us cursing Mr, sorry Dr Mallya for looting Rs 200 for a worth for nothing breakfast which we assumed initially was for free. I would like to let people who are reading know that my travelogue would always have huge contributions towards the stuff we ate, so please forgive me for the same. 3-4 cola bottle cap sized idli's soaked in sambar, 1/6th of a masala dosa and some fruits for just INR 200. Gopal's concern that we would always require snacks to eat during the trip was rightly experienced as we opened one pack of manoharam (muruku soaked in jaggery and rolled like laddus) and thatai in the flight which we purchased from Grand Sweets, Adyar.

Flight landed on time, Arun Raag asked a wonderful question, "Ask in which belt the baggage's would arrive?". In an Airport that had around 6 flights operating per day, having an automated belt itself was a luxury. Our agent Ashraf had informed someone would be waiting for us with a hoarding. Yes, there was someone and the hoarding read "Welcome Mr NK Arun". He was revolutionary, providing a guy his wife's initials after marriage, the first person to do it in the history of mankind transforming Arun DK with NK Shruthi's initials. His name was Anil and he seemed quite friendly. He was a mallu and when I wanted to intervene and showcase my expertise in Malayalam, he revealed he spoke good Tamil. I was shattered.

We purchased some bananas, boarded the ferry to Havelock Islands which was scheduled at 2PM. Ferry journey was quite boring except for the bananas and snacks and the fact that we had "Ace" photographers in Vijesh, Arun Raag, Srihari(to encourage him) and Shruthi(so that I don't face any consequences).
We enjoyed the photography sessions and then killed time playing UNO in the deck. It was 4:30 PM and Hevelock Islands welcomed us. Our pickup was ready in place by the Wild Orchid resort where we planned to stay located at beach no 5. We had some issues regarding rooms as the allocation was split into 2 rooms each at a distance of around 50 meters. Sun sets in the Andamans at 5:30, so we knew all we could do would be do have food and sleep.
Food was good. I saw a lobster dish for the first time after watching it in Mr Beans holiday ordered by the non veggies. We had Roti's, Briyani's, Rice, Dal and the special item of the day, roasted papad. During dinner we decided we would check out Scuba diving and inquire about the same. Day one was coming to an end.

Chapter 7 : Bikes and Vijaynagar
Day : 2
Date : 26th Jan 2011
I woke up at 6, got ready at around 6:45 and started calling the other folks. Me, Shruthi, Gopal and Aparna had tea in the neighboring restaurant. Always remember, in Havelock, just tea means green tea, not the milk tea. And if the tea is flavoured with tulasi, ginger or honey, it is definitely green tea. We inquired about scuba diving near the restaurant in an institute called Andaman Bubbles. Everyone else joined for the complimentary breakfast in Wild Orchid. Breakfast was good. Toasts, parathas and the highlight was banana pan cakes. Please never ever order pan cackes for breakfast in Wild Orchid resort, Havelock. Any guesses on who would have ordered it and who eventually liked it and finished it? Gopal and his wife respectively of course.

After breakfast we planned to check out two things. One was regarding Scuba diving in an institute called Barefoot scuba located at beach no 3 and two was to rent bikes. Me, Santy and Arun Raag took right from the resort towards Barefoot Scuba. It was supposed to be a 5 minute walk. Please note, never ever ask this question, "How much time will it take to reach that place?". Always ask, "how many kilometers that place is located from here?". We kept walking and walking and walking and after 10 minutes asked another shopkeeper who said, "5 minutes". And as we were leaving, I think he got some sense of telepathy from our pissed off faces that he called us back and said, "3 minutes, not 5". We reached Barefoot Scuba in next 10 minutes, inquired rates and were back in auto. Meanwhile, two other things happened. One, as I already mentioned, Srihari and Gopal took left from the resort to check out bike rentals. We rented 4 bikes, 2 Activa's and 2 geared bikes. We planned to rent another bike somewhere else as this shop had only 4 bikes available and we were 9 folks. Two, as we requested we were all shifted to the same block and we were no more having the 50 meter gap we had yesterday. Arun Raag said he would not join us in the bike ride and would spend time in the beach. When everyone were getting ready, Santy and Srihari collected cash and headed towards Barefoot Scuba to book scuba diving on the next day.

We started from Wild Orchid at around 12:15PM in our bikes to beach no 7 which was located at around 15 kilo meters. The journey was enjoyable and before that we also checked the counter to booked return ferry tickets. It was lunch break in the counter and we were getting hungry. Even the bikes sounded hungry when we reached beach no 7 in next half hour. We were not sure of making it back with just one liter of petrol we had filled in each bike; we had earlier neglected Gopal's warning that the quantity would not suffice. We had lunch in a small mess. INR 50 for a thali which served rice, dhal, soya curry, potato fry and appalam. Charges for Roti was extra and we had them too. I should say, for the money we paid, the food was excellent.
The afternoon and evening were spent in beach no 7 and 5 respectively. We somehow reached with the same amount of petrol. Beach no 5 was called the Vijayanagar beach and our resort was located there. We took some amazing snaps in the beach, thanks to the photographers again. We played the double passing ball game here. For rules, please contact me offline.

The moment we saw roasted papad in today's special menu, we decided we should be eating outside given that we still had the bikes. For future travelers, bike rental is INR 250 for 24 hours with INR 1000 as deposit. We had dinner in a restaurant of Symphony Palms resort located at beach no 3. This time I will skip the list of items we ate as it was more or less the same. During dinner we played a game that has to be the part of every trip, Dumb C. Highlight was "Letters from Iwo Jima" which was written in text and given for enacting by Abi and no one knew until she revealed Iwo is pronounced as "Aiyyo". We went to bed early that day after returning the bikes as we planned to catch up the sun rise and get ready mentally for scuba diving.

Chapter 8 : PADI and Radhanagar
Day : 3
Date : 27th Jan 2011
Sunrise at Vijayanagar beach was fascinating. The moment it looked like it would disappoint, a reddish ball of beauty kept rising and we were overjoyed. Again, great pics. Vijesh got himself a Polish friend; Abi, be careful. For breakfast everyone had toast, Gopal and Shruthi wanted corn flakes eventually eaten by Aparna. Yes, both of theirs, after they complained lack of taste and had the anger of getting served with cold milk. We left the luggage in Wild Orchid reception before breakfast. We reached Barefoot Scuba, like Vadivelu says, "Ellaru kannuleyum kalavaram therinjudhu", as scuba diving was no child's play. We signed documents, where I read almost in 10 places the word "death", somehow took courage and managed to sign.

Scuba diving is an interesting and fascinating learning experience. Please do not miss this even though it costs you INR 3000-4000. And to sustain the suspense and thrill, I would not elaborate at all on the experience of a lifetime I had. I finished my session and was out of water to see a guy, a friend of mine, wearing a yellow tshirt, sitting as if somebody has offered him a banana leaf south Indian meals. His name is Gopal and he was enjoying the beauty of the island and the calmness of the sea. Of course, like everyone else, he got the certificate from PADI(Professional Association of Diving Instructors). To be fair, he did what he required to do to get a certificate. We were served pasta in the boat and we headed back to check-in Barefoot at Havelock resort.

Beach No 7 is called the Radha Nagar beach and the only private resort available is Barefoot. Awesome place, location and mesmerizing beauty. We reached the resort at around 2:30 PM. We came back for lunch and snacks. Food was awesome, Avarakai poriyal was the highlight. Evening was spent in the beach. Radha nagar is the most exotic beach I have ever visited till date. My fingers are paining while I mention this again, but the photographers did not feel any pain in their fingers. Snaps were super good. After the beach session, we had an amazing and hilarious time during dinner and then we were off to bed. Oh, I forgot, we had another time pass friend, his name is "Talking Tom", he just used to repeat whatever we said. Thanks to Arun Raag and his phone.

I was sitting in my rooms veranda before dinner with my wife thinking of the fact that we would be checking out tomorrow and would be leaving this beautiful island. But somehow, the amount of fun and happiness I was carrying in my heart didn't make me feel bad, it rather just made me look great. After completing college four years ago, after some of us got married, and after settling down in different cities, we still managed to do this. No words. Get ready Cellular Jail, I will meet you by dusk tomorrow and you will really feel like you got an old prisoner back and almost goodbye Havelock.